Member for South West Coast Roma Britnell has met with Water Minister Lisa Neville and urged her to clear up confusion about the management of rural drainage systems.
A blocked drain has again caused flooding of agricultural land and sporting facilities in the Lake Gillear area and Mrs Britnell said the fault lay squarely at the feet of the Government.
Government inaction has cost farmers thousands of dollars in lost productivity, she said.
“Warrnambool City Council and Moyne Shire had money on the table for a workable solution. But they were held hostage by government bureaucracy and buck passing,” Mrs Britnell said.
“The councils tell me they were told for a permit to be issued, they would need to take responsibility for the ongoing maintenance of the drainage system – which was established through a state government scheme in the 1950’s.
“This scheme traverses crown land, road reserves and private property, so it’s unfair for councils to be forced to take overall responsibility for land not in their control and what originally was a state government scheme.”
“Because of the inaction, it’s too late for this winter, but I have spoken personally with the minister for Water Minister Lisa Neville and urged her to make sure there is clarity around who is responsible for these drains well ahead of next winter.
“It’s not good enough for everyone to throw their hands in the air and say, not our problem. I think the Minister now realises that and I will continue to lobby her to ensure action on this important issue.”
Mrs Britnell said changes to legislation and policy over many has left no clear authority or responsibility for the maintenance of drainage schemes.
“I raised this issue last year and was told the draft rural drainage strategy would clear up the confusion and outline chains of responsibility,” she’s said.
“That draft report failed to clear anything up and after a round of consultation; it still sits in draft format – almost 12 months later.
“This flooding is costing farmers thousands of dollars but the state government is dragging its feet and it’s our farmers and sporting clubs who suffer.”