Labor pledges $2.84 million to Moonee Ponds Creek restoration

Labor pledges $2.84 million to Moonee Ponds Creek restoration

Federal Labor has promised to spend more on efforts to transform the Moonee Ponds Creek into a “natural Melbourne icon” if Anthony Albanese is elected on May 21.

In a joint announcement on May 16, Member for Maribyrnong Bill Shorten, Shadow Minister for the Environment and Water Terri Butler, and Labor candidate for Melbourne Keir Paterson, briefly outlined the $2.84 million commitment.

It would fund the removal of sections of concrete drain in the creek along its course south of Strathmore.

According to the statement, this would improve drainage, water quality and the amenity of the creek for the local community. The investment would also provide an “informative cultural experience”.

“For too long the Moonee Ponds Creek has been neglected,” Mr Shorten said.

“Now the creek’s significance is rightly being recognised, celebrated and returned to a more pristine natural setting.”
Various stakeholders have endorsed ambitious plans in recent years to return the concrete drain to its natural glory pre-European settlement.

But a 25-kilometre urban catchment like the Moonee Ponds Creek can be hard to govern given the sheer number of municipalities it crosses as well as parties with an interest in its future.

In 2018, 15 community and government organisations, led by Melbourne Water, partnered to form the Chain of Ponds Collaboration Group. Together, they aimed to create a catchment-wide approach to revitalising the creek.

The proposed funding announced this week is said to build on the group’s endeavours.

“We’re pleased to have the support of now both the Member for Wills and the Member for Maribyrnong with announcements towards the re-naturalisation of the Moonee Ponds Creek,” said John Kavanagh, president of the Friends of Moonee Ponds Creek, which is part of the Chain of Ponds Collaboration.

“It’s very well received and it’s good just to have the creek on the agenda, to be honest.”

Mr Kavanagh attributes this attention on the creek to the COVID-19 period, which he said made more people realise the value of open spaces and waterways.

“I’m pleased to see politicians believing the same,” he said.

While Labor would not elaborate on the exact length or location south of Strathmore, they said improvements would dovetail with similar works due to begin soon in the northern section in Strathmore and Pascoe Vale, where the concrete channel begins.

Mr Kavanagh said the proposed location was the “logical choice”.

“It’s a continuation of works that are already set to begin. It would make sense, rather than have a salt and pepper-type arrangement, just to continue it along.”

He said this commitment from Labor would extend current plans much further.

If it goes ahead, Mr Kavanagh is confident this could signal more funding for improvements further down the creek.

“Once that becomes a reality then I think people are going to demand that it continues all the way along.” •

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