Friday, May 14, 2010

the funding yarra ranges never got

report from the roundtable – 11 may

I recently attended a Minister for Environment roundtable organised by James Merlino MP, where members of some local environment groups were able to speak to both parliamentarians about key issues of concern.

Pictured is the Shire's Environment One Trailer, used as an education aid to help community members understand the impact of weeds. Here it is parked at Birdsland as part of Weedbusters week.

At this forum, James Merlino (Member for Monbulk), talked about funding the shire had received from the state government to tackle the weed issue in the Dandenong Ranges. The funding, announced in July last year, never got to the Shire of Yarra Ranges and council never got to see any of the $1million announced over the next four years.

I thought it was important that Minister Merlino be informed that this money did not flow to Yarra Ranges as announced so I moved the following motion:

That Council write to the Hon James Merlino MP, Minister for Youth, Sport and Recreation and Member for Monbulk, to:

1. Clarify that $1million for weed control programs on Council land in the Dandenong Ranges did not flow to the Yarra Ranges Shire Council as stated in a recent public forum.

2. Restate the importance of this funding for weed control in the Dandenong Ranges.

3. Request that these monies which have been allocated to the DSE under the Urban Fringe Weed Management Program be reinstated and reallocated back to the Shire of Yarra Ranges for weed control programs on Council land on of the basis of the original commitment to fund the Shire of Yarra Ranges on a dollar for dollar basis of $1million over a 4 year period.

There is no doubt that weeds are a critical issue in the Dandenong Ranges. Their impact on our biodiversity and water ways is immense as well as increasing fire hazards in the region. When the original funding announcement was made, council developed extensive work plans to tackle weeds on council land. The money from state government was to be matched dollar for dollar by council so we could really start to make some headway.

It was very disappointing to learn that those plans had to be swept aside as it became known that the funding did not flow to Yarra Ranges. I am surprised that Minister Merlino wasn't aware that the money didn't flow to Yarra Ranges and I hope that those funds are reinstated to Yarra Ranges as they were originally intended.

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