Assistant Shadow Minister for Public Land and The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Melina Bath is calling for improved access to public land following a recent visit to O’Connell’s Lookout above the Mitta Mitta River in Gippsland’s high country.
Ms Bath said tourism plays is vital role in the survival and prosperity of Gippsland towns and it is important that government agencies maintain existing infrastructure and improve public access to our state and national parks.
“Traditionally, Gippsland’s high country has been a popular place for tourists and we want to see increased visitation, however the state government needs to ensure our public spaces remain accessible and prioritise the eradication of invasive weeds,” said Ms Bath.
“When we experience an environment and connect with the landscape, we are more likely to understand and respect that environment.
“It is essential the state government commits to the maintenance of existing walking tracks, improves signage for bush users and directs additional resources to the removal of weed species threatening our national and state parks.
O’Connell’s Lookout is a picturesque part of East Gippsland that is accessed via a 100 year old walking track, a few short kilometres from Anglers Rest and provides spectacular views of the Mitta Mitta River.
“The track to O’Connell’s Lookout is well known by locals and those who have been visiting the region for generations, but is unsigned for the uninitiated,” said Ms Bath.
“It appears government agencies who should be maintaining the area are hamstrung by a lack of resources, manpower and red tape. Much of the upkeep and work in the region is being left to committed local volunteers compelled preserve access to the area.
“Local community members and the not for profit organisation, ‘Friends of the Mitta’ are committed to improving safe public access to O’Connell’s Lookout as a place of significance such, this includes the removal of invasive weeds such as english broom.
These community groups should be commended for their work, however the Andrew’s Labor Government must not ignore their responsibilities and I call on them to provide tangible support and resources, not just lip service.
“As parliament resumes I will continue to meet with groups and raise examples where the Andrew’s Labor government must direct resources and commit to improving access to public land, maintenance of basic infrastructure and suppression of destructive weeds,” concluded Ms Bath.