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Rural drainage strategy goes down the gurgler

Friday 3 November 2017

Shadow Water Minister Steph Ryan is encouraging landholders to make their views known on the Andrews Labor Government’s draft Rural Drainage Strategy.

Ms Ryan said she was concerned the strategy failed to provide greater clarity around the management of rural drainage schemes.

Labor’s strategy proposes that rural drainage schemes will be managed in four ways:

· By individual landholders;

· Collectively through amicable agreements;

· Collectively through written agreements; and

· Collectively through written agreements with support from government agencies and with councils offering administrative support where landholders are prepared to pay for that service.

“By putting forward every option, the government is actually putting forward no option at all,” Ms Ryan said.

“Water Minister Lisa Neville clearly has no interest in fixing the uncertainty surrounding the management of rural drainage schemes,” Ms Ryan said.

The former Liberal Nationals Government tasked a Parliamentary committee to investigate rural drainage schemes which reported in 2013.

The committee found that the responsibilities of local government and catchment management authorities had been confused, with both groups being reluctant to take on unfunded activities.

It recommended the Victorian Government develop a rural drainage strategy which outlined the role of State Government, CMAs, councils and community committees.

The strategy was also supposed to outline the process for identifying the lead drainage body in a given areas, cost sharing principles, how to strike a tariff, the nominating agency to raise and disburse the tariff, management structure options to be adopted by the responsible authority, a policy for regulating new drainage works and systems and the standards to apply.

“Labor have had almost three years to develop this strategy, yet the result is a dog’s breakfast that provides no clear direction for landholders,” Ms Ryan said.

Landholders who wish to provide feedback on the strategy can attend a regional forum or make a submission online atwww.engage.vic.gov.au/ruraldrainage