Gippsland Lakes laps up funds

The ongoing management of the Gippsland Lakes will receive a $2.5 million top-up in tomorrow’s state budget, which will include a revamp of a Ministerial Advisory Committee.

The funding details come after the advisory committee’s outgoing chief executive, Martin Richardson, publicly detailed his resignation in the lead up to the pending budget announcement on his Facebook page.

Water and Environment Minister Lisa Neville said the new funding would provide a range of on-the-ground environmental works to be delivered underneath an “improved” management structure.

The terms of reference for the current advisory committee are set to expire on 30 June.

Ms Neville said strengthened management arrangements would feature a Gippsland Lakes Coordinating Committee to “guide future actions”.

“This budget investment in the magnificent Gippsland Lakes will further enhance their economic, social, cultural and environmental values for the benefit of the region and Victoria as a whole,” Ms Neville said.

On Thursday, Mr Richardson detailed the thinking behind his resignation, as he takes on a position as a project manager for Gippsland Ports.

“I have had to consider a scenario where the State Government announces something in the budget (with no forewarning to those affected) and how long it would take for the bureaucracy to decide who gets the money, how and when they might employ staff?” Mr Richardson wrote.

“My faithful sidekick, (project officer) Heather (Adams), and I have done a remarkable job for the Gippsland Lakes over the past three years and really deserve better than to be left hanging with no plan for maintaining momentum or continuity with our work,” Mr Richardson wrote.

In response to the Facebook comments, a spokesperson for Ms Neville said the Labor Government has always committed to working with the local community to enhance and protect the iconic Gippsland lakes.

“We understand Mr Richardson is taking up a new opportunity with Gippsland Ports and we wish him all the best and thank him for his contribution,” the spokesperson said.