Member for East Gippsland, Tim Bull, accompanied Victorian Opposition Leader, Michael O’Brien, on a tour of East Gippsland last Thursday, which included two stops in Lakes Entrance.
First stop was the Lakes Entrance Fishermen’s Co-Operative on Bullock Island where Mr Bull explained the dire need for the upgrade of the unloading facilities.
Mr Bull pointed out the disrepair of the jetties, demonstrating one pylon could easily be moved by hand.
“The biggest challenge at this facility is the unloading area and $3 million is needed to fix it,” Mr Bull said.
“Lakes Entrance is built on the fishing industry and it is for all Victorians, we need to secure funding, it is of the highest priority. There will be no fishing cooperative without the fish.”
Mr Bull claims that after last summer’s bushfires and the COVID-19 crisis the State Government said they “wanted to walk us through recovery and this is of critical importance”.
“We are asking for help in good faith,” he said.
Mr O’Brien said how great it was to get down to the East Gippsland area.
He pointed out the fishing industry was a major generator of income.
“The State Government has blown $3 billion on the metro tunnel and it is time to start spending money where it is needed,” Mr O’ Brien said.
“They need to back our industries, this is non negotiable.”
Bruce Hammond, who is chair of Lakes Entrance Fishing Limited, said erosion behind the sea wall meant a hole was developing under the building, the co-ops hopes are not to repair the finger jetties, but to replace them with a more practical jetty.
“One that can allow forklifts to get out on them, so we can develop another level of efficiency,” Bruce said.
“Their hope is to build something that all boats can access.
“At the moment tuna boats fishing off the shelf have to go to New South Wales to unload.”
The entourage also had a tour of the area where the new café will be built on Bullock Island.
“We are at tender stage for the café, we are looking for local contractors,” Bruce said.
“The café will be built out over the water with an all abilities ramp running along the front and viewing deck to see the boats unloading. The hope is to have it up and running by September this year.”
After a seafood luncheon provided by the co-op, the group visited the Slipway and met with Andrea Lane, representing FLOAT, Sallie Jones, of Gippsland Jersey, Sam Mahlook, of Miriams Restaurant, and Zoe Fielding, of Sailors Grave Brewery.
“The Old Slipway site was a disused eyesore in the middle of town,” Mr Bull said.
“Two weeks ago Lakes Entrance had a COVID scare which caused many to leave and many cancellations, but we want to get the message out for people to come back.”
Mr Bull has been supportive in getting the abandoned slipway site up and running and Mr O’Brien got to see where this project is going.
The Slipway Collective explained their vision and Andrea spoke to Mr O’Brien about the need for more arts funding.
They finished their visit with a soft serve, beer and coffee and sampled some local seafood.
State Opposition Leader, Michael O’Brien, and local MP, Tim Bull, inspect a pylon which desperately needs repair at the Lakes Entrance Fisherman’s Co-Operative last Thursday.