Gippsland Nationals MP’s Melina Bath and Tim Bull have called on The Andrews Labor Government to undertake urgent maintenance on Pearl Point Road, Bemm River prior to the Christmas holiday period.
“Pearl Point road is the access road to visit pristine bays along the East Gippsland coastline,” said Ms Bath, who raised the matter in State Parliament last week.
Approximately nine kilometres long, Pearl Point Road is the entrance to the stunning Binn Beach, Gunnai Beach, Py-yoot Bay and Pearl Point.
The state government agencies Department of Water Land and Planning (DELWP) and Parks Victoria have responsibility for the road’s upkeep.
Ms Bath said Pearl Point Road is integral to Bemm River’s economy as it’s a gateway for tourists to discover and experience some of East Gippsland’s natural coastal attractions. It should be regularly maintained by the Andrews Government to an acceptable standard.
“Following last summer’s devastating bushfires and COVID-19, our East Gippsland communities are relying on the upcoming peak tourist season to bounce back following a year of lost income.
“It is astonishing that the Bemm River Progress Association has been forced to undertake maintenance on the road over past years, grading the road at their own expense just to keep it accessible,” said Ms Bath.
“The Andrews Government must stop shirking its responsibility for the roads upkeep and properly maintain Pearl Point Road.”
Local businesses have experienced a significant drop in their revenue over the last 12 months with Bemm River Holiday Accommodation and Boat Hire reporting their income is down $140,000 compared with former years as a result of bushfire and COVID-19.
Mr Bull said he had been successful in having the road graded in the past, adding it should be tended to on a regular basis and particularly before each tourist season.
“Bemm River traders are just starting to get back on their feet and basic infrastructure like local access roads must be maintained to facilitate and support tourism in the area,” said Mr Bull.
“Rural towns like Bemm River don’t deserve to short changed by the Andrews Government just because they’re a long way from Melbourne.”
Ms Bath said it’s all well and good for the Andrews Government to hand out vouchers for regional tourism, but Labor must back up its rhetoric with real action to support tourism.
“The Nationals are calling on the Andrews Government to urgently undertake infrastructure maintenance on roads around Bemm River so attractions are accessible and safe passage is guaranteed for locals and tourists alike,” Ms Bath said.