FISHING and boating minister Jaala Pulford is tipped to make an announcement on the future management of six Mornington Peninsula boat ramps next month.
This comes after a promise by Premier Daniel Andrews on the Channel 31 Talking Fishing show to create a stand-alone boat ramp authority and abolish boat launching and parking fees on the Mornington Peninsula.
It was the premier’s only “live” television appearance during the 24 November state election campaign.
David Kramer, who hosts the Fishing Show, had earlier said called the shire’s boat ramp management a shambles. “It astounds us that the Mornington Peninsula Shire is reconstructing Rye boat ramp during November and [yet] didn’t call on the Capel Sound or Whitecliffs-to-Camerons-Bight committees of management to have their nearby boat ramps ready to take the increased traffic while the Rye boat ramp was out of operation,” Kramer said.
“With the Tootgarook boat ramp closed for dredging that should have been done months ago. And the Tyrone boat ramp, which the local committee-of-management has neglected to maintain for several years now, is also inoperable.
“This is an absolute disgrace and a total disrespect for boat owners that the Mornington Peninsula’s ramps are in this situation.”
But last week details of the boat ramps’ new management structure were up in the air. “Nothing has happened yet except a lot of work in the background,” Kramer said.
“Minister Pulford is away overseas on holidays and I’m away soon at a conference. At this stage, there is a planned announcement during the week commencing 11 February where I’ll join the minister and [new Nepean MP] Chris Brayne at Tootgarook boat ramp to announce the plan to make all ramps free and [detail the new] management arrangements.”
But the mayor Cr David Gill was sceptical of the state government’s boat ramp management capabilities. “They haven’t got a clue,” he said. “They don’t understand what is involved. There are lots of problems. They and the fishing people have no idea about the dredging that’s needed, maintenance, boat-ramp ‘rage’, about having people employed there to manage the ramps.
“The [fishing show people] have asked us for money and we tell them to go and get it from the state government.”
Cr Gill said Mr Andrews had used Rye boat ramp as an example “because he was going fishing with his mates and we’d closed the ramp so it could be extended”.
“We were getting the work done so the ramp could be open in time for the busy summer season.
“We’re now negotiating for [the government] to repay us [for continuing to run the ramps]. We’re kindly doing the right thing.”
Cr Gill said the shire could save $1 million a year by handing over management of the boat ramps. “I’ve thanked them for saving peninsula ratepayers the $1 million that won’t be in next year’s budget.
“I’ll be asking for the savings to be factored into our mid-year budget review.”
However, the shire may feel the pinch through potentially lost parking fines and launching fees. This was illustrated last week when a Ringwood East man successfully appealed his 1 December $81 fine for failing to pay a launching ramp fee at Safety Beach.
In a letter to the shire’s local laws team the motorist stated that he “didn’t pay the launch fee as the newly-elected Labor Government had promised once they were returned to office that all fees for boat ramps would be abolished”.