Alpine Resorts Legislation Amendment Bill 2016
MS THOMSON (Footscray) — I rise to support the Alpine Resorts Legislation Amendment Bill 2016. I will only speak briefly on this bill. As we have heard from other speakers, this bill abolishes the Lake Mountain Alpine Resort Management Board and the Mount Baw Baw Alpine Resort Management Board and establishes a new Southern Alpine Resorts Management Board that will have responsibility for managing both the Lake Mountain and Mount Baw Baw resorts. The bill provides for the transfer of any rights, property assets, debts, liabilities and staff from the two old boards to the new board.
We know that these environments are very delicate ecosystems. They are environments that are going to feel the impact of climate change I think far more quickly than other parts of our state. All the reports from the CSIRO are showing that there is rapid deterioration in the amount of snow that is falling and the length of the snow season. So no doubt this provides huge challenges for the new board, but it also provides incredible opportunity. We have certainly seen an increase in the use of both of those resorts during the green seasons for bike riding, for bushwalking and for camping. The alpine region has a very diverse fauna and flora environment, which enables people to look at it not just from a ‘let’s go tobogganing or skiing or playing in the snow’ perspective but as an opportunity to see the breadth and depth of the ecosystem that makes up our alpine resort areas and our alpine parks.
It is also something that most members have fond memories of themselves — going to Lake Mountain to experience snow for the very first time. If you are a Melburnian, getting to Lake is relatively easy. Getting on your first toboggan or making your first snowman is a pretty exciting experience, as is going to Mount Baw Baw for cross-country skiing, which also occurs at Lake Mountain. There are also the facilities there, which includes being able to stay on the mountain at Mount Baw Baw. It is also about the experience for those of us who have children of taking them to these resorts and of their seeing snow for the first time and building their first snowman. We should be building snow women now. It is about the opportunity for them to toboggan and to enjoy the snow and that experience.
When we market Victoria, we do so by saying, ‘We have it all: in our state you can go to the desert and you can go to the snow’. So it is really important that we protect our opportunity to maintain these resorts and that we do it in a way which is sufficient and recognises the importance these resorts have for their local communities, not just in terms of jobs for those in those regions — that is crucially important — but also in terms of the natural beauty of these areas. I think it is important that that balance is recognised and that the new board can give countenance to looking after the natural environment of the alpine resorts while ensuring that they remain vibrant tourist attractions and vibrant economic drivers for those communities who rely on them.
There is a great opportunity here, I think. I am very optimistic about the role that the new board will play in meeting the demands of both Lake Mountain and Mount Baw Baw for their local communities, for the state of Victoria, for all of those visitors who come from around Victoria to visit both Lake Mountain and Mount Baw Baw and for those who come from interstate. We have not yet, at least in the time I have been in the chamber, mentioned the number of international visitors that come to use the resorts during the green season to go bushwalking or bike riding. I know that there are a lot of international travellers that come and use the trails that are available to them because it is such a beautiful part of Victoria and one that I hope generations can enjoy for a very long time to come. I commend the bill to the house.