Another Christmas is upon us without a new Thurra River Bridge to access the Thurra campground, the Cape Conran cabins are not replaced and a host of other fire recovery projects that have not been concluded, and in most cases commenced.
Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, said after four years this was disgraceful.
“Not only that, but we have the East Cape Boardwalk that was to be delivered by the end of 2021, then 2022 and more recently in 2023, but will not be finished until next year.
“It was only weeks ago the Departmental Secretary looked me in the eye and promised it would be open for Christmas this year.
“You really wonder whether this government could organise to hit the water if they fell out of a boat. I don’t think I have seen such a level of incompetence.
“It has to be considered that when the fires occurred just on four years ago, we had the commitment to rebuild quickly to help us recover economically.
“However, when you consider the cabins and lack of access to the second largest campground in the area, it would have cost this region hundreds of thousands of dollars economically when you consider food, fuel, camping supplies, fishing gear, bait and all the other extras.
“The reality is, we have some great local Parks staff, but the middle and upper bureaucracy is bound up by red tape and a Minister who is more concerned with shooting our brumbies.”
Mr Bull said at a forum held to update the community on bushfire recovery projects, we had Parks management congratulating themselves on having all parks re-opened four years after the fires, backslapping for work they have done and countless references to the fact they were ‘building back better’ – spare me! It should have been commenced with an apology to the people of East Gippsland.
“With the greatest of respect, when you are replacing infrastructure that is in some cases several decades old, I would certainly hope you would be ‘building back better’ as a basic requirement, not something to self-congratulate yourself on. What we want to see the Government doing is ‘building back quicker’ than they have been.
“Two examples given of building back better were that wooden bridges that burnt are being replaced with steel and concrete structures, and the toilet blocks are more modern.
“Well, you would certainly hope they would be as a basic matter of course, but please just get on with the work,” said Mr Bull.
“While I am pleased we have finally had an information session for the community, it revealed that in addition to the Cape Conran and Thurra Bridge works:
• The government is still completing engineering assessments on the Yeerung River Bridge, with still no decision on whether it needs to be repaired to replaced and they are “working through” whether it needs to be able to take larger fire fighting vehicles - of course it does! There was no explanation of why these assessments have not been done after such a long period.
• Four years on, tree assessments are still taking place on some tracks at Buchan that are not yet open.
• Design work is still not complete on the Rangers’ hut replacement at Buchan, let alone work started.
• There is still no final design for the replacement accommodation in the North Arm area of the Buchan Caves Reserve, four years on.
• Structures on the Spring Creek walking track are still not repaired.
• Mallacoota Inlet jetty upgrades have not even started.
• The shared pathway between Marlo and Cape Conran is now in jeopardy due to cost blow outs, despite Minister Lily D’Ambrosio promising it would be built.
“We are not talking four months here, this is four years on and we are still doing engineering reports and design work. Not good enough,” Mr Bull said.
Caption: Nationals State Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, remains frustrated a number of key bushfire and flood recovery projects have still not been reinstated.
Monday, 11 December 2023