The ongoing viability of the Coast Guard in both East Gippsland and the State has been raised with the Minister for Emergency Services in Parliament this week by Gippsland East Nationals MP Tim Bull.
Mr Bull was referring to the industrial action that has been started by some flotillas and the threat that unless concerns for the organisation are addressed, operations in some areas may soon cease altogether.
"I have been approached by volunteers who have said that members are spending less time on the water and more time having to fundraise and increasing financial pressures are placing a question mark over the Coast Guard’s viability,” Mr Bull said.
“I understand one of the major areas is meeting the annual cost of insurance.
“The reason for raising this in Parliament, was to ask the Minister what plans she has in place to ensure the ongoing operations of the Coast Guard in the short term and then to outline her plans for the organisation’s long term future.”
Mr Bull said he had some concerns over the industrial action, which related to non-urgent responses, for two reasons – those being the ability for non-urgent matters on the water to quickly become emergencies and that it will be the public that will suffer.
“I acknowledge some local flotillas are not taking part and I also acknowledge the Coast Guard has to get its message across to government as it did highlight its concerns in a recent Parliamentary Inquiry and members have concerns the Minister has ignored the issues raised in that process.
“It was also raised in the Upper House this week by my colleague Melina Bath MLC.
“Our hope would be that the immediate concerns of the Coast Guard can be addressed, which may be ensuring insurance and any other urgent costs are met, with further clarity on how our marine rescue services will be structured longer term.
“That of course would need to clearly outline how the Coast Guard and its volunteers will operate viably into the future.”