The Brumby Government must make a decision about the future of Port Welshpool’s Long Jetty following the outbreak of a major fire on the pier, Member for Gippsland South and Leader of The Nationals Peter Ryan said today.
Mr Ryan said CFA and DSE crews were still monitoring the scene of the blaze this morning which broke out yesterday afternoon.
“The fire presents an opportunity for the Brumby Government to commit once and for all to restoring the Long Jetty,” Mr Ryan said.
“The government has dithered long enough over the future of the structure. It’s time it committed to funding its restoration.
“The Regional Infrastructure Development Fund, which is under committed and underspent by this government, is a ready source of assistance.”
Mr Ryan said the damage caused by the fire, which burnt about eight of the 140 jetty pylons and some 160 square metres of decking, presented a chance for a government initiative which would be of immense benefit to South Gippsland and Victoria generally.
“A complete investigation of the damage caused by the fire and the general state of the pier must be carried out immediately,” Mr Ryan said.
Mr Ryan said the value of Long Jetty to the region, in both a historical and economic sense, was immense.
“The government must develop an accurate proposal, incorporating costings, to have the jetty rehabilitated as a tourist facility.
“Not only is that essential in terms of this Gippsland icon, but the refurbished jetty is a key element of the proposed under water viewing project.
“The cost of redeveloping the structure to the point where it can provide access to an underwater marine viewing facility has been estimated at as little as $2.5 million which is small beer when you consider government support for locations such as Sovereign Hill at Ballarat.
“Not only could the Long Jetty be a major source of employment and a tourism drawcard, but its history makes it a significant public asset of immense historical importance.
“We know the funds to restore the jetty are available. All that is lacking is the political will on the part of the Brumby Government to commit them,” Mr Ryan said.