Adjournment – Rundell’s Mahogany Trail Rides

My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, and the action I seek is a reversal of the bureaucratic decision that has severely hampered the ability of Rundell’s Mahogany Trail Rides in my electorate to continue their popular business. This is a business that has been running for 22 years, offering trail rides through the sand dunes between Warrnambool and Port Fairy. They have worked with Parks Victoria and the department to obtain the appropriate permits and operate in the Belfast Coastal Reserve. In all the years of operation they have had no feedback from anyone about doing the wrong thing. They have had no complaints, and there have been no issues.

All of a sudden in December last year, in the middle of the mess surrounding racehorses on beaches in my electorate, Rundell’s owner, Sandra Wilson, received a call that told her she no longer had access to Hoon Hill, a key feature of the trail rides. Now, the staggering thing about this is: racehorses have been permitted access to that site, but a small business which runs gentle trail rides has been told they are no longer allowed. She has also been restricted to only one access track through the dunes to the beach. Previously she had access to five. The problem is that with the changing nature of the coast the beach is often not accessible using this track because of tides and swells. This lack of access limits her ability to run her trail rides, and the removal of access to Hoon Hill lessens the experience for her customers.

This is not a comment on racehorses and where they may or may not be permitted to access, and Sandra has made it very clear that she has no problems with other user groups; this is a comment about the absurdity of the situation, where a small business has been pushed to the brink by bureaucracy. And there will be flow-on effects. Sandra also assists the local branch of Riding for the Disabled, supplying and looking after the horses used for the program, and it is a win-win situation. If her business were to close, this relationship would also end and would force the Riding for the Disabled group to have to spend thousands of dollars to have the horses used for the program looked after and housed. This group receives no government funding and is reliant on the generosity of people so they can continue to put smiles on children’s faces.

Minister, with one stroke of a pen you could fix this mess, and I implore you to do that. No-one is asking for special treatment. All that is being asked is that a well-established business, which has been doing everything right for the past 22 years, be allowed to continue.