SENTINEL-TIMES COMMENT

A CAMEL, they say, is a horse invented by a committee.

And the ‘Cape to Cape Resilience Project’ is also a camel, it seems, invented by a doozy of a committee, the Inverloch Regional and Strategic Partnership (RaSP), which includes membership from DELWP, the Bunurong Land Council, Bass Coast Shire, Department of Transport, Gippsland Ports, Heritage Victoria, Parks Victoria, South Gippsland Shire, South Gippsland Water and the West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority.

And if ever there was a collection of organisations that was going to have trouble making a decision, this is it!

At the time the RaSP was announced and funded to the tune of $700,000, in October 2019, there was no word whatsoever about the partnership group looking into anything other than the coastal erosion problems at Inverloch, described by Bass MP Jordan Crugnale as among the worst in the state.

So, how did a group appointed by the government to study and address Inverloch’s erosion problems decide to expand its scope to encompass a Cape to Cape Resilience Project, planning for the management of “changes to coastal areas between Cape Paterson and Cape Liptrap”, a section of coast up towards 100km in length?

Neither ‘Inverloch’ nor ‘erosion’ even appears in the project title or headline explanation.

So, it’s hardly surprising then, that after two years, the committee has produced precious few findings, and certainly not the Local Coastal Hazard Assessment and Community Resilience Plan that was supposed to be its first job.

And that despite DELWP Gippsland Regional Manager Land and Built Environment Carole Macmillan saying at the time that this type of plan usually takes six to 12 months to develop.

It’s already 24 months and counting.

And you wouldn’t worry so much about that except that the government and other key agencies are saying nothing can happen until the details of the Coastal Hazard Assessment are in.

It even held up the extension of the Surf Parade footpath, for goodness’ sake!

And now we hear they are delaying the publishing of this key report until late March next year, at best!

Is it any wonder then that the busy members of the local community reference group are throwing up their hands in disgust and withdrawing from the group meant to advise the partnership on local experience and the community’s wants and needs?

Or that those concerned about the damage being done to the coast at Inverloch are taking matters into their own hands, lobbying for action through the council and calling a public rally at the beach on Wednesday, January 12 next year?

Save that date at the beginning of a double election year!

This has got to stop, now.

The RaSP and its consultants have to inject a sense of urgency into Inverloch’s unique coastal problems and immediately propose some interim measures, ahead of bringing forward completion of the Hazard Assessment and Resilience Plan… to the end of this year.