Coast authority ‘myth-busting’ amid political attacks

February 27, 2024 8:09 am in by
GORCAPA CEO Jodie Sizer (right) says credibility attacks on the authority are political (GORCAPA).

The head of the Great Ocean Road Coast and Parks Authority (GORCAPA) says ongoing attacks over the organisation’s competency are damaging for staff and politically motivated.

Polwarth MP Richard Riordan continues to criticise the authority for its management of the coast, his latest spray including claims it’s a “secret society” in need of a state government review.

The state MP for the coast made the assessment as GORCAPA gears up for a redevelopment of the Apollo Bay Harbour, a project initially adopted in late 2020 when the authority was inaugurated.

Article continues after this ad

“Coastal communities were promised a coastal walk and renovated harbour precinct by the end of 2023,” Mr Riordan said.

“To date the coastal walk has been abandoned and the urgent repairs and upgrades to the harbour have not begun, and no one knows when the community can expect any improvements from what funds are left after consultants, reviews and bureaucracy have taken more than their share.”

Richard Riordan (left) says GORCAPA is holding up development projects (FACEBOOK).

GORCAPA CEO Jodie Sizer acknowledges hiccups in getting the harbour redevelopment going, but says their are numerous reasons for that.

“Their wouldn’t be a person across the infrastructure industry that’s not frustrated with some of the delays,” she said.

Article continues after this ad

“This project has been impacted by a change of government, a re-distribution of City Deal funding.”

The Geelong City Deal is a partnership between the federal, state and local governments for projects in Geelong and the Great Ocean Road, and includes over $12 million in funding announced in 2021 for the Apollo Bay Harbour redevelopment, but GORCAPA says a review of the 2020 redevelopment plan was required “to ensure the project’s success.”

“The review found that design amendments are needed to ensure current planning and environmental controls are met,” an authority spokersperson stated.

GORCAPA is now pulling together a Community Reference Group to take the project forward, and is calling on local business, industry, Traditional Owner and council representatives to determine what changes may be needed to the harbour plan.

GORCAPA has taken over management of the Apollo Bay Harbour redevelopment from the Colac Otway Shire (GORCAPA).
Article continues after this ad

The Colac Otway Shire last year passed a unanimous motion that expressed “concern with the progress of implementation by the Great Ocean Road Coast and Parks Authority of the City Deals project relating to the Apollo Bay Harbour Redevelopment.”

This week Mr Riordan used this as an example of community displeasure with GORCAPA, as he called on the state government to “review” the authority.

“This motion is by no means a glowing endorsement of the Authorities ability to work with local communities,” he said.

“The communities of the Great Ocean Road want an Authority that will listen to local concerns and not one that is run in isolation of local communities…GORCAPA should not be a secret society.”

Ms Sizer says since the Colac Otway Shire passed that motion in August last year she’s met with council twice and given them a briefing, and will meet the shire again next week.

Article continues after this ad

“There’s a bit of myth-busting to go on,” she said.

Jodie Sizer was named as GORCAPA’s inaugural CEO in March 2021 (GORCAPA).

It’s not the first deadline that’s been missed by the government authority that took over responsibility for management of the coast between Torquay and Warrnambool in 2020.

An adaptation plan for erosion at Anglesea was meant to be in place by last year, but is still in the early stages of development and one reason cited for this delay was “resourcing issues.”

Ms Sizer says the authority is growing it’s staff, forging a new path in consultative management for the coast, and ongoing attacks against GORCAPA are unhelpful.

Article continues after this ad

“We’ve now got 260 staff, 80-90 per cent of them are employed from across this coast,” she said.

“They are incredibly talented professionals and it’s unfortunate when politicians get into that sort of conversation because it really does have an impact.

“Allegations of a secret society, it’s incredible to see how someone could even have that sort of view, considering the level of engagement that we have.

“Mr Riordan is a politician and I’m not in the business of politics, we’re in the business of getting things done.”