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    KEEP DOORS OPEN: Natimuk Lake advocate Bob Kirsopp believes community representatives must maintain primary responsibilities over Trust money dedicated to lake projects. Mr Kirsopp, a keen angler, believes the lake, when holding water, is one of the best fishing waters in the region. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

Bob Kirsopp calls for resolution over Natimuk Lake anxiety


Lifetime Natimuk Lake advocate Bob Kirsopp has called on the State Government to clear the way for volunteers to maintain a say on how to spend community money dedicated to lake improvements.

Mr Kirsopp, a former Horsham mayor and an outspoken promotor of the lake’s socio-economic value, said he was concerned bureaucracy had consumed a relationship between Natimuk district community representatives and the lake’s agency managers.

“When that happens, invariably a lot of nothing gets done. We can’t afford for that to occur with a lake that presents so much community growth and development opportunity,” he said.

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Mr Kirsopp made the comments in response to Natimuk Lake Foreshore Committee fears over departmental efforts to shift money-direction responsibilities of a community Trust fund dedicated to lake improvement.

The committee has traditionally accessed interest money generated by the Otto Spehr Lake Natimuk Trust. But the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning wants overall lake manager Parks Victoria to have responsibility for directing money generated from the arrangement.

DELWP has told the committee that contemporary lake-management circumstances limited the group’s ability to appropriately use the money for lake improvements.

But Mr Kirsopp said in his many years as a community leader he had seen government agencies resort to ‘a veil of process’ to get their own way. 

“It’s a well-worn strategy that often reflects nothing more than a collapse in personable negotiations when an agency fails to convince a community group to act or vote in a particular way,” he said.

“While we obviously need management protocols in place for major environmental public assets, the lake committee is justified in being worried about a government agency having all the say on how money donated from a family Trust should be spent – especially when the committee has always had the job of ensuring that money was used for its intended purpose.”

Natimuk Lake Foreshore Committee has long played an integral role in a variety of Natimuk Lake improvement projects.

Much of the anxiety involving how best to direct Trust money has emerged from confusion over the committee’s role in a project to redevelop the lake’s outlet weir, now in the hands of Parks Victoria, and a
DELWP process in endorsing foreshore committee members.

Mr Kirsopp said there was a clear need for greater diplomacy and understanding between parties and a galvanised approach in working towards how best to develop the lake for all involved.

“Let’s put all the bureaucracy aside, get everyone working for a common goal without putting anyone’s roles and responsibilities to the sword,” he said.

“I’ve grown up knowing what this lake can mean to people – I’ve fished, skied and swam and enjoyed great community gatherings there. And I can also reflect on how it was and could again be a magnet for visitors from across the state and beyond, especially when all the talk at the moment is about domestic tourism.

“The big issue is that we ultimately need to get and keep water in the lake when possible. 

“For that to happen we can ill-afford to disenfranchise anyone, especially community volunteers driven by nothing more than passion.”

Natimuk Lake is an example of a natural boom-and-bust Wimmera waterway that spends much of its time dry, filling only in long periods of wet weather. It is currently empty.

The entire June 24, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

The entire June 24, 2020 edition of AgLife is available online. READ IT HERE!