17 August 2004
Despite threatening weather a large crowd from
around Victoria made their way to Apollo Bay on Sunday to
protest against the expansion of the Otway National Park.
While the date for the final submissions to the Victorian
Environmental Assessment Council (VEAC) has passed, the aim
of the protest was to send a message to Premier Bracks that
many in the community oppose the expansion of the Otway National
Park and have no confidence in the Victorian Environmental
Assessment Council (VEAC).
Bob Richardson of the Bush Users Group led the
meeting from the back of an articulated truck parked at the
Apollo Bay foreshore. Amongst the guest speakers was Terry
Mulder of the Liberal Party who delivered a scathing attack
on the arrogance of the Brack's Government, Cyril Mariner
from Bimbi Park Trail Rides and the very capable Four Wheel
Drive Victoria President Michael Coldham.
Many locals living around Apollo Bay and the
Otway region, feel they have been disenfranchised by the political
process put in place by the Brack's Government. They feel
their submissions have in large part been ignored because
the government has already decided upon the outcome.
Unlike Anglesea and Lorne, who's economies are
heavily reliant on tourism, those at the southern end of the
Otways and inlaying areas are largely rural farming communities
who also draw income from forestry activities, whether that
be logging, timber milling or seed and plant collection amongst
other things. Tourism is there but is a small part of their
economies. Their argument is that the creation of a National
Park will lock up large sections of land denying them job
security and a future for their families.
They are also aware of the fact that National
Parks in other parts of the State are under-funded and mismanaged,
leading to serious fire risk, weed infestation and unabated
growth in vermin numbers.
Lavers Hill resident, Rosie Vulcz argues Park
visitation figures being used by the government are inaccurate
and misleading. "What they don't tell you is that visitor
numbers have actually been falling in this part of the world
for some time," she explains. "Its only when you
add in the Angahook Park visitation figures that you get a
Beekeepers will also lose
the right to place beehives in the Otways National Park. John
Edmonds of Edmonds Honey relies heavily on the coastal area
because its flora and mild winter climate. These areas are
suitable for overwintering honeybee hives preparing the bees
for pollination service in Almond and fruit orchards of Victoria.
"The Australian public
is looking for the unique flavoured honey produced from these
clean and green areas. Beekeeping has occurred since the mid
1800's with no affect on the environment," he said.
The final report from VEAC is due to be presented
to the Victorian Government on 3rd September after which the
government will decide the fate of the Angahook-Otway Parks.
by Nicholas Soames
While at the meeting I recorded several of the
guest speakers. I have prepared the audio grabs as mpeg3 files
and by clicking on the links you can download these files
and listen to what thay had to say.
Bob Richardson - 0402 658 012
Rosie Vulcz - 03 5237 3216
Steve Lawson - 0427 375 257
Michael Coldham - 0419 500 223
Casey Shepherd - Public Relations Officer
Four Wheel Drive Victoria
Ph: 03 9704 0028
Mob: 0401 001 312
See the OREN website for more information:
Address: 3rd Floor, 250 Victoria Parade,
East Melbourne 3002. Victoria, Australia
Phone: 03 9412 5100
Phone (Free Call): (Victorian country callers) 1800 134 803
Fax: 03 9412 5153
E-mail: [email protected]