Governor Of Victoria Visits Murrindindi Shire

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On Thursday 13 March Council had the honour of hosting a visit from the Governor of Victoria, Her Excellency Professor the Honourable Margaret Gardner AC, and the Emergency Management Commissioner, Rick Nugent, both of whom have expressed a desire to understand firsthand the impacts of the recent emergency events across Murrindindi Shire. They met with Mayor Damien Gallagher, Deputy Mayor Sue Carpenter, Cr Sandice McAulay, Cr John Walsh, Cr Eric Lording, CEO Livia Bonazzi and key staff, as well as Peter Weeks, representing the local State Emergency Service (SES).

This visit was an opportunity for open dialogue and to highlight the challenges our community faces, especially in terms of disaster preparedness and response.

During this visit, Peter Weeks shed light on the recent flood events that have severely impacted our shire.

Mr Weeks highlighted the critical issues we face, such as the lack of early warnings for the community, partly due to insufficient river and rain gauge installations. The unpredictable nature of severe weather events, exacerbated by the changing climate, makes it increasingly difficult to prepare and respond effectively.

Councillors and senior officers took this opportunity to outline the direct impacts these disasters have had on our community. They advocated for improvements in our disaster response and recovery processes, including the need for further financial support for businesses and residents affected by natural disasters and the necessity for more resilient infrastructure.

Under the disaster recovery arrangements, the funding only allows the rebuilding of assets such as roads, culverts, bridges etc, to previous standards without enhancements. This practice sets us up for repeated failures in the face of future disasters, and we continue to advocate for a change to the rules.

An insightful part of the visit was the tour to the Yea Riverside Caravan Park and the property of a local resident, both of which have suffered extensive inundation in the recent flood events.

Yea Riverside Caravan Park, having endured two devastating floods in 15 months, is still in recovery mode but has managed to remain operational thanks to extensive cleanup efforts.

Throughout the visit, the Governor and the Emergency Management Commissioner gained a deeper understanding of our unique challenges, including issues such as the absence of flood mitigation in the operating rules for Lake Eildon, the potential of frequent floods under the proposed Murray Darling Basin Plan, frequent power and telecommunications outages, the lack of backup generators, and the dependency of the state emergency app on connectivity, which can be a major hindrance during disasters.

Our community was praised for its resilience and proactive stance.

If you have been impacted by the recent severe weather events, check out our website for information on flood waste disposal, supports currently available, information for farmers and businesses and ways in which you can share your experience. Visit our January 2024 Severe Weather event page here.

Mayor Damien Gallagher said, ‘I extend Council’s thanks to those generous community members who invited our distinguished guests into their homes and businesses and for describing their very personal circumstances.

Sharing firsthand accounts of the experiences that emergency events have on our community and seeing the impacts of these events, offers an opportunity to ensure state and federal governments and their agencies are aware of the challenges we are facing, and I thank Her Excellency, the Honourable Margaret Gardner and Commissioner Rick Nugent for visiting our Shire and hearing those key concerns impacting our communities’.

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Pictured (from left): Rick Nugent – Emergency Management Commissioner, Livia Bonazzi – Murrindindi Shire Council CEO, Deputy Mayor Sue Carpenter, Her Excellency Professor the Honourable Margaret Gardner AC – Governor of Victoria, Mayor Damien Gallagher, Cr Eric Lording, Cr Sandice McAulay, Peter Weeks – Local SES, and Cr John Walsh.

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Pictured above (from left): Rick Nugent – Emergency Management Commissioner, Livia Bonazzi – Murrindindi Shire Council CEO, Mayor Damien Gallagher, Deputy Mayor Sue Carpenter, Her Excellency Professor the Honourable Margaret Gardner AC – Governor of Victoria, Matthew Williams – Business Owner – Yea Riverside Caravan Park, Otis Heffernan-Wooden – Aide to the Governor of Victoria, and Jonathan Burke – Official Secretary to the Governor of Victoria.

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