Coalition MPs committed pre-election to a four year extension to the Gippsland Lakes Environment Fund. The new Government today announced a one year extension.
Gippsland East MP, Tim Bull, today welcomed the State Government’s 12 month commitment to the Gippsland Lakes Environment Fund, but expressed concern over the fact the new government has provided only one year of additional funding.
“As is well known, the previous government committed $10m over four years back in 2010 and made a further four year commitment pre-election,” said Mr Bull, who has raised the importance of the fund continuing in Parliament three times already this year.
“The program was funded until June this year under the previous commitment, so it is unfortunate we have had to wait until just weeks before this ran out to have this short term extension.
As a result, in recent weeks we have seen resignations of executive members, who have moved on to new jobs, due to the uncertainty. This could have been announced months ago,” said Mr Bull.
“In responding to a question I raised in Parliament last sitting week, the Minister indicated a new management plan will be formulated by the middle of this year. I would hope that its release will come with an announcement of further financial support beyond the 12 month period announced this week.
“Despite being silent pre-election on the Gippsland Lakes Fund, the new Government has now said it is committed to protecting the health of the system, which I certainly welcome.
“This provides a level of optimism for ongoing support, but we don’t want to wait until Budget eve next year to have the certainty needed for staff and program operators to continue their good work.
“The Minister herself has also acknowledged the great work being done by the current Committee and they have undertaken many important projects in the areas of research, education and investigation, so it is clear the structure does not require major change.
“Many of these programs need continuation, particularly in the areas of monitoring and research, to have a longer term benefit and that is why a commitment beyond 12 months is required sooner rather than later.”