Adjournment matter : Warrnambool Golf Club

My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Sport and Minister for Tourism and Major Events, and the action I seek is that he travel to Warrnambool and meet with members of the Warrnambool Golf Club to discuss their plans for expansion. For many years the golf club has been developing its vision to build an additional 18 holes overlooking the rugged and spectacular Southern Ocean.

As the minister has recently stated, golf tourism is a booming industry. People will travel from across the globe to play on spectacular courses, which ours is. The Warrnambool proposal would give the south-west a slice of that action. The minister would be aware of the popularity of Barnbougle in Tasmania, with a long waiting list of people wanting to play on it, as well as the two new courses on King Island and of course the highly regarded Port Fairy Golf Club just a few kilometres down the road.

There is a huge opportunity for tourism operators to offer golfing holiday packages with flights out of Melbourne to King Island and then onto Warrnambool. A feasibility study done on the proposal 10 years ago suggested the redevelopment would create 535 jobs and increase tourism expenditure by $22.4 million. Forward figures suggest that by 2014 that benefit would have increased to 790 jobs and $30 million in extra tourism dollars for the region. Imagine what those figures would look like in 2017 with golf tourism booming.

The Warrnambool plan would see 18 holes developed in dunes with frontage to the ocean rivalling St Andrews in Scotland and even Barnbougle.

The area is so similar that you could almost overlay a photo of Warrnambool on Barnbougle and you would not be able to tell the difference. This would not only mean an expansion into Crown land but also that the landscape was being managed and it would increase the club’s intake of recycled water, meaning less water would be pumped into the ocean.

The course architect, Ross Perrett, is the first Australian-accredited verifier for the Golf Environment Organization. He actively promotes environmentally responsible golf course design and sees it as part of the solution to protect the natural environment. This was put into practice on a course Mr Perrett recently designed and built on heritage-protected Dent Island in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The Warrnambool development would be environmentally sensitive and designed by experts in a way that would have minimal impact, manage the landscape, remove weeds, cats, rabbits and foxes which kill native bird life from the scrubby areas, and provide ongoing maintenance of the landscape. The course superintendent in Warrnambool also makes his own natural pesticides and insecticides, which he has developed himself to perfectly suit the environment.

A new course in Warrnambool fits perfectly with the push to attract tourists further along the Great Ocean Road and would encourage increased visitation and extra dollars to be spent in the region. In 2015 an estimated 630 000 international tourists visited the Great Ocean Road but did not stay in the Great Ocean Road region. This is a key problem. Locals hardly benefit, and we need to be doing much more to encourage increased overnight stays. Given that earlier this year the government put out a discussion paper planning for golf in Victoria, it would be worthwhile for the minister to come and visit the south-west and see for himself just how spectacular this new course would be and what a great opportunity it would be for not only South-West Coast but also the Great Ocean Road region. I know that the Premier is a keen golfer, so it might be a way to get him out of the city a bit more and for him to actually take note and understand what is happening in regional Victoria.