AIDA members will be aware that many of our objectives for the environmental protection and responsible development of our part of the coastline depend to a great degree on government policy.
It is for this reason that AIDA has asked candidates standing in previous elections about their views on various issues relevant to our area.
For the November 2022 election we decided to ask just one question concerning the future of the Great Ocean Road and its environs and to send it only to local candidates running for the lower house. The complete list of candidates for the Polwarth district in the lower house and the Western Victoria region in the upper house can be found at www.vec.vic.gov.au.
We provided, in alphabetical order, the candidates’ responses to the question exactly as they gave them – up to a limit of 150 words – but we did not included any other commentary. We aimed in this way to provide an even-handed opportunity for our members to understand the candidates’ views on an important local issue, and to compare their views with those of other candidates. At no stage prior to the election did AIDA recommend or publicly favour any candidate.
The question we asked as well as the responses we received are as follows:
The Aireys Inlet and District Association is primarily concerned with the conservation and protection of environment and character of the area between Urquhart Bluff and Eastern View.
The Great Ocean Road is a major tourist destination and tourism is a major contributor to the economy of the area. However, it is recognised that tourism puts pressure on our environment, facilities, infrastructure, and communities.
What would be your approach to new tourist developments and the inevitable change in the area?
ATCHISON, Elisha, Animal Justice Party
The Animal Justice Party is committed to habitat and wildlife protection, as well as halting and reversing climate change. I will introduce habitat protection as a fundamental and consistent
planning principle across the state. Having adequate legislation and development controls in place to support conservation of the ecosystem is critical, as is genuine engagement of community stakeholders in its management.
I will provide financial incentives to preserve and restore ecosystems, as well as encourage sustainable, ethical and respectful eco-tourism business opportunities within the area.
Animal Justice Party MP Andy Meddick was instrumental in the reversal of Spring Creek valley development plans and secured an environmental community consultation committee on the
Great Ocean Road Authority, to ensure wildlife and the environment is considered in all decision making. I plan to continue this work if elected, as will Andy.
BORSOS, Denes C.
No response received
HUNTER, Hollie, Family First Victoria
No response received
HUSSEIN, Hutch, Australian Labor Party – Victorian Branch
Labor has a history of protecting the environment – through national parks (Marine, Great Otways) as well as the Surf Coast DAL – to ensure that development is limited and controlled. But we all know that there is pressure to deliver accommodation (including key worker housing) and new tourism experiences.
With that as a base, I believe the role of the local MP is to work with the community and governments to find the balance that allows innovative and appropriate ideas to be put forward and for the community to be involved in their final shape. As an example, we need to find ways to balance the needs of businesses (eg staffing), residents and tourists while also examining ways to manage the numbers of visitors and vehicles/ electric vehicles.
AIDA is a group I would seek for advice on initiatives that are put forward as part of regular forums with similar groups.
McALLISTER, Hilary, Australian Greens
Firstly, the Greens’ election commitments include reform of VCAT to ensure developers can only contest a decision based on law, and not because they don’t like the council’s decision. We also support a full parliamentary inquiry into the Victorian planning system.
Secondly, we plan to invest $1 billion per year as part of the Zero Extinction Fund, which would ensure bodies such as GORCAPA are sufficiently funded. In addition, the Greens wish to strengthen environmental laws so they have the power to stop destructive projects, as well as establish an independent conservation regulator for Victoria, who would hold the government and industry to account and protect nature.
And finally, the Greens wish to regulate the short-stay industry. This would make it easier for locals to find long-term rentals and ensure there is local housing to support families and businesses that wish to call the Surf Coast home.
REMENYI, Joseph Vincent, Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party
No response received
RIORDAN, Richard, Liberal
As a lifelong local I am committed to our amazing region and my vision for Polwarth is: A sustainable and economically diverse region with healthy people and a resilient environment. Tourism is a major contributor to our local economy, supporting multitudes of local businesses and individuals and bringing much needed income to the region. However we must always manage our precious coast and hinterland carefully. Any new development needs to be undertaken with local consultation and must be in keeping with the environment, aesthetics and lifestyle of the local area and within community expectations. The current unresponsive and unaccountable actions of GORCAPA and the Andrews Government along the Great Ocean Road does not fit at all with these very reasonable community expectations.
We can have a balance between tourism and preserving our local environment. I will continue to stand for appropriate development and respectfully ask for your vote this election.