The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Melina Bath has called on the Andrews Labor Government to ensure local community groups and clubs can continue to use the Hazelwood pondage.
Ms Bath visited the Hazelwood pondage last week and met with community leaders to hear their serious concerns over the future of the lake, which has been a feature of the Latrobe Valley landscape for more than 50 years.
Power company ENGIE is in the process of rehabilitating the Hazelwood power station and surrounds, and has flagged that its preferred option for the pondage is to drain it.
Ms Bath is calling on the Andrews Labor Government to ensure the pondage is retained.
“This had been a community asset for many years – since the mid-1960s,” Ms Bath said.
“Generations have used this place for a range of recreational purposes. That includes sailing groups plus a range of other water sports, camping, fishing – this is a very popular place.”
“Rather than saying “the pondage goes as part of the Hazelwood rehabilitation process” we should take the broader community approach and determine what needs to be done to ensure that it is retained.”
“The Andrews Labor Government is responsible for the closure of Hazelwood through its $252 million coal royalties tax. Daniel Andrews should at least see that this fantastic asset for the Latrobe Valley is retained.”
Commodore of the Latrobe Valley Yacht Club Geoff Conway welcomed Ms Bath’s support.
“Our club has always been concerned about the future of the Hazelwood pondage,” Mr Conway said.
“We always hoped that people would see the benefit of this as a community resource.”
“We understand that use of this facility is a privilege; it’s not a right.”
“However, we see it as a tremendous benefit not only for our club but the many hundreds and even thousands of people who come here every year for sailing and other events.”
“We hope that people will recognise the value of this resource for future generations.”
Mr Conway explained that there was no alternate suitable sailing location anywhere nearby.
“This is the only area for sailing in the Latrobe Valley. It’s either here or sailing in the Valley is finished.”
“It would be a tragedy to lose sailing. This club has provided recreational and sporting opportunities to thousands of people from all across the state.”
President of the Yinnar and District Community Association Herb Smith said the importance of the Hazelwood pondage to the area must be recognised.
“The pondage has been bringing a lot of tourists to Yinnar for over 50 years,” Mr Smith said.
“For small business operators in this area, visitors to the pondage bring much-needed business to Yinnar.”
Ms Bath will ask the Andrews Government to intervene when parliament sits next week.