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State and Local Governments meet on river red gums

The Brumby Government is working with local government to support workers and communities affected by the implementation of the $38 million River Red Gum package.
Environment and Climate Change Minister Gavin Jennings hasmet mayors and chief executive officers of Local Government (from Mildura in the West to Wangaratta in the East) within the River Red Gum investigation areas.
“The aim of the meeting was for the Government to hear about the councils’ priorities, ideas and concerns about the implementation of the package, which was announced in response to the VEAC River Red Gum Final Report,” Jennings said.
The package involves creating four new national parks: Lower Goulburn River National Park, Warby–Ovens National Park, Gunbower National Park and Barmah National Park.
“It’s vital that Local Government is involved in the implementation of the River Red Gum package so we are working together to protect the river red gums and keep the impact on the communities to a minimum,” Jennings said.
“This meeting was about us listening to Local Government in an open, roundtable environment, which sets the scene for how we plan to work with Local Government in the future.”
Local Government highlighted the following during the discussion: assistance and opportunities for affected timber workers, resourcing to manage the new parks sustainably, opportunities for enhanced tourism, and timing and clear communication during implementation.
“These issues are also a focus for the Brumby Government. We are committed to supporting the livelihoods of workers and communities affected by the package and part of that is the $4.5 million assistance package for the 55 affected timber workers,” Jennings said.
“We are also committed to protecting the environment and enhancing the new parks through a thinning program, which will also reduce fuel loads, lowering the bush fire risk and allowing the best use of our precious water.
“The package is about protecting the Murray River and ancient River Red Gum forests from drought and climate change, but not at the expense of the region’s economy.
“It’s about achieving a balance and we’re working with many stakeholders, including local government, to do that.”
Jennings will meet Local Government representatives again in late April or early May and has committed to ongoing dialogue with them.