Morwell National Park

Melina BATH (Eastern Victoria) (17:32): (429) My adjournment matter this evening is for the Minister for Environment, in our house, and it relates to the Morwell National Park, which was severely impacted by the June 2021 storms that smashed across Gippsland and indeed the Morwell National Park. It was established in 1967 and has been expanded to its current 560-hectare size. It is widely regarded as the best habitat for the Strzelecki koala, along with rare species and threatened animals such as the brown bandicoot, the dusky and the agile antechinus, platypus, powerful owl, Gunn’s tree orchid and oval fork fern. It is a beautiful place, and I have actually been out there with the Friends of Morwell National Park members. There are about 35 of them who valuably donate their time and efforts in weed eradication, track maintenance, thinning of vegetation and possum nesting box counts. I went out there doing that with them a few years ago, and it was fantastic. But what they have found is that post the storms there has been significant impact on the Stringybark Track Bridge, the three bridges on Billys Creek and the Kerry Road car park and picnic area.

Now, these bridges are closed to public access, and indeed if people can go there, they have to detour and walk around onto private property. It is steep and it is really unsafe for people to do that. The Kerry Road car park used to have two picnic tables and a free barbecue. They have not been replaced. It used to have notice boards and signs, but they have deteriorated. So, seriously, there are full-on upgrades required in this beautiful, beautiful little Morwell National Park. It is next to, as you would see, the Latrobe Valley – on the edge. It is a lovely place for locals to go and enjoy the outdoors, but it also attracts visitors to our region.

However, the restructuring, the rebuilding and the repair is the responsibility of Parks Victoria, and they have been very tardy about it. Now, they will say that they need money and time and all of that, but the Friends of Morwell National Park know that this is a real priority for our community. The action I seek from the minister is, first of all, to provide a timeline as to when those upgrades will be put into place, then to expedite the important works for the community and then to make sure there is proper funding for those full-on upgrades to come to fruition.