Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester has asked East Gippsland Shire Council (EGSC) to urgently reconsider its decision to not take over the management of Bullock Island in Lakes Entrance.
Mr Chester said he was ‘disappointed and surprised’ by Council’s split decision to leave the Island in the hands of the State Government through its Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP).
“Bullock Island should be an icon of Lakes Entrance and the Gippsland Lakes but instead it’s an eyesore,” Mr Chester said in a letter to EGSC.
“Decades of mismanagement and under-funding by the State Government has meant Bullock Island has failed to deliver on its potential for our region.
“Council decided seven years ago that it was best placed to manage the island and a master plan was adopted by EGSC in 2015 after extensive community consultation.
“Four years later, very little of the plan has been implemented and Council has now refused to enter an agreement with DELWP on the future management arrangements for the remaining public open space at Bullock Island.
“The community was led to believe on many occasions that the ‘sticking point’ was the risk associated with the existing sea-walls but the draft agreement clearly states that liability will remain with DELWP. It is a short-sighted decision to abandon the plan at this late stage and undermines local community confidence as it endeavours to build the visitor economy in the region.”
Mr Chester said a community meeting earlier this year, attended by several hundred local residents, had endorsed greater government investment on Bullock Island.
“This is a huge setback for the local community and visitors to the region who just want to see Bullock Island become the great attraction we know it can be,” Mr Chester said.
“The State Government’s failure to fund any major improvements to public land on the island means we are better off getting local control of the area with EGSC as managers.
“I have been working with Council staff to seek funding opportunities for improvements but that won’t happen if DELWP stays in charge.
“I urge EGSC to rescind the current motion and proceed with the partnership agreement under the draft principles presented at this week’s Council meeting.”