A PROPOSAL that could see all ports in south-west Victoria bundled together under a central management authority has faced a backlash from two south-west councils.
A state government discussion paper reviewing Victoria's ports canvasses an option to headquarter the body in Geelong to oversee ports including at Warrnambool, Port Fairy and Portland Bay.
Moyne Shire Council manage the Port of Port Fairy on behalf of the state government and port chair and councillor Colin Ryan gained unanimous support from the council to oppose the change this week.
"We all know the pitfalls of local assets and entities that are being administered by a central bureaucracy in Geelong or Melbourne," Cr Ryan said.
"Our port is very important to the Moyne Shire and particularly Port Fairy ... the current system works very well.
"It would be a great shame and a great determent, and a retrograde step if this was to go to a central administration."
Cr Jill Parker opposed the creation of a central manager but said she supported another option in the discussion paper outlining a statewide port authority responsible for channels and navigational control, and offering technical expertise to local managers.
"I know there is some work to be done under water as well as to some of the assets along the current port area," Cr Parker said.
Glenelg Shire has also expressed opposition to the centralised management.
South West Coast MP and opposition spokeswoman for ports Roma Britnell said the short time frame councils had to respond to the manager proposal "horrified" her, with parties given a month to respond.
"I am absolutely shocked that the government would put out a report like this under the cover of COVID," Ms Britnell said.
"The reason for this review I can't really identify other than it's been 20 years since anything has changed."
Ms Britnell said the port's management did not need restructuring.
"It's not broken so why fix it, Port Fairy and Portland do a great job with their port," she said.
"Warrnambool's port is another issue, they have an infrastructure that does require investment, but This centrallised approach won't fix the breakwater it will just shift it from the city council to the state government."
A state government spokesman said the discussion paper outlined ideas and feedback as part initial consultation.
"It doesn't arrive at any final positions," he said.
"We are urging all key stakeholders including local governments to provide feedback on this discussion paper so we can better understand the needs of communities and businesses."
Meanwhile, Moyne Shire has released a draft Port of Port Fairy Masterplan which highlights that the 70 moorings and pens are full with "with a long waiting list of applicants" from mostly Moyne residents.
The council has received feedback requesting additional berths on the southern and western side.
The masterplan points out the council receives "relatively low" income of around $125,000 a year from leasing the berths and "additional annual revenue could be leveraged".
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