Member for Morwell Russell Northe last week in Parliament finally received a response from the State Government in relation to Hazelwood Pondage being retained as a public recreational facilty into the future.
It seemed that a response only occurred following a strong rebuke by Mr Northe in Parliament on Wednesday during Question Time. “Unfortunately, it took this action to finally get the Government to take notice, and after 134 days my question was finally responded to which is a far cry from the 30 days in which questions should be answered”.
On behalf of the Latrobe Valley community Mr Northe lodged a petition from nearly 5,000 concerned citizens in June this year and subsequently called upon the Government to respond to these constituent concerns as a matter of urgency.
“But despite questions, letters, and even 5,000 signatures, it seems the State Government will not provide any meaningful support in endeavouring to maintain Hazelwood Pondage as a local recreational and tourism destination”, Mr Northe lamented
What is so difficult to comprehend is that the State Government invested substantial funding (pg 58) to stock Hazelwood Pondage with barramundi and it also commissioned a report to consider geothermal heating of the Pondage. Yet despite all that investment which was not so long ago they now refuse to play any part in the future of the Pondage.
“In addition it beggars belief that the State Government on the one hand are encouraging locals to provide feedback to the Latrobe Valley Draft Preliminary Land Use Vision and offer ways in which tourism can be enhanced, yet on the other hand they are watching by as an already established and popular tourist facility slowly dies. Talk about contradictions!!’ said Mr Northe.
The Government continually states that Hazelwood Pondage is a private asset and they are unable to intervene, yet the Government has previously invested in Hazelwood Pondage in a number of ways (see above) and can also buy a private timber mill in Heyfield. Then you have to ask if why at the very least can’t they commit to commissioning a feasibility study for Hazelwood Pondage.
“As disappointing as the Ministers response will be to many in the Latrobe Valley community, we will continue to agitate for a commitment to facilitate a comprehensive feasibility study for this important and iconic asset for our region” Mr Northe said.