DOES SHIRE CARE SHIRE AT CARE?
FORMER Campaspe Shire councillor Paul Jarman is pretty sure the council is not really interested in supporting the local tourist industry.
Mr Jarman said that was the only conclusion he could draw after Campaspe Shire Council chose to ‘note’ the Port Precinct vision and strategic direction.
The owner of the Star and Bridge hotels said he read the decision in the Riverine Herald with “shock and horror”.
And believed it raised serious concerns about governance of the Port.
“A key distinction to be made is I don’t think a lot of people understood was what it means to ‘note’ a document,” he said.
“Noting means the document was received and the project has concluded but the document has no legal standing and can’t be used by council or anyone else.
“The document is essentially useless in its current form.
“The councillors who voted to ‘note’ this have essentially voted to not move forward on the Port.
“After making such a drastic step we still don’t have an adopted vision and direction – we’ve fallen over at the starting blocks.”
The failure to make progress on the “once iconic” port has left Mr Jarman questioning the motives of councillors making decisions about the precinct’s future.
“Councillors who have commercial interests in the port voting on this document is very strange and is worthy of further questioning from the community,” he said.
“This council campaigned on xing the port, consultation with the community and dealing with con ict of interest.
“The consultation has been good but the handling of the port and the relevant con icts need to be explored further.”
Staring at an empty Murray Esplanade during a school holiday, Mr Jarman said not adopting the port strategy document was unbelievable with the state of decline in which the tourism mecca nds itself.
“We’ve hit a new low with the Port of Echuca wood turners closing their doors,” he said.
“There is nothing left open on the eastern side of Murray Esplanade,” he said.
“The natural response is for people to look to the past for answers, but I don’t think that is necessarily the right answer.
“Our tourism industry has changed from 30 years ago.
“We must be respectful of our history and culture but we also have to rejuvenate the port and offer what people want.
“The next step is to investigate what it should offer and this document gives a starting point to do that.
“Politics has got in the way of making good decisions for the future of the port for far too long and it’s time the community started asking questions.”
After making such a drastic step we still don’t have an adopted vision and direction – we’ve fallen over at the starting blocks
“ROME is burning and we’re fussing over a word.”
Murray River Paddlesteamers’ Rohan Burgess (pictured) said he was still struggling to get his head around the “storm in a teacup” created over four letters.
Campaspe Shire Council’s decision to ‘note’ and not ‘endorse’ the port precinct vision and strategic direction has come under fire from people in the community, with some arguing it was a waste of time and money.
But Mr Burgess believed it was a step in the right direction and it was time for everyone to calm down and get on with things.
“Council has put its money where its mouth is and agreed to take the next step in what is a great report,” he said.
“When more community consultation has been completed, then things will be locked in and endorsed.
“The next stage of the report was always more community consultation. Noting at this stage means councillors have agreed they like what they saw and are willing to move forward.”
Mr Burgess said it was time for the community to band together and get on with the port strategy as a community.
“We finally have a plan. We haven’t had one of those for years,” he said.
“Our community desperately needs to work together instead of causing trouble about a word.
“The decision by council seems eminently sensible. They loved what was in the report but didn’t want to lock themselves into anything until they take the next steps.
“I hope everyone in the community can look past wording and get excited about the future of the port.”
Last week Mr Burgess described the council decision as “great news” and said “it’s now time for the community to really have its say in the next steps”.
He said it must be remembered these same councillors had the courage last year to force the review/report to be completed in response to continuing community and business pressure that some- thing simply has to be done to improve the precinct.
“Enough is enough is the catch cry,” Mr Burgess said.
“The ongoing lack of even a simple plan was not what could be described as ‘administrative best practice’.
“Especially when the community was required to foot an everincreasing multi-million dollar loss – year after year.
“Let alone not being told the whole story about other commercial business losses the shire operates, but that’s another story.
“The Hirst Report and the next steps the report lays out give the community the opportunity to participate in the discussion and shape the future.”
Our community desperately needs to work together instead of causing trouble about a word Rohan Burgess