Opinion

Will the mayor make it as Mr Fixit? EDITORIAL OPINION

by
February 03, 2018

Adrian Weston and his council circa 2018 are at the pointy end of a problem that has now spanned four years.

OSCAR Wilde once said experience is simply the name we give our mistakes.

Making Campaspe Shire one of the most experienced local governments in the state of Victoria.

Adrian Weston and his council circa 2018 are at the pointy end of a problem that has now spanned four years.

And still isn’t solved.

That they have now opted to bite the bullet and fix the latest mess is a gutsy call.

This part is not a mess of anyone’s making – council can hardly be held accountable for the water flowing down the Murray.

But the badly damaged retaining wall that protects Murray Esplanade from being washed down the river with the next flood connects to the initial mess.

The site formerly known as Oscar W’s.

This was a veritable jewel in the crown. For a very long time.

And has now sat there, empty, a fading memory. For a very long time.

It was being successfully run until negotiations between the lessee and the shire about the state of the building broke down.

From there on it stayed broken, through a botched, and expensive, tender process to find a new tenant.

Then an inquiry as to whether the repeated process was above board as the tender that had been awarded to Renee and Dean Oberin, the previous owners of Oscar W’s, was handed to then-sitting councillor Paul Jarman.

And the clock was ticking.

Peak tourist season after peak tourist season passed by and nothing progressed.

Mr Jarman had plans drawn up for the relaunch of the site as Jarman’s Wharfside Echuca and then nature intervened.

So the delays continued while a shire handcuffed by flood and finances went through the process of applying for Federal funding.

If you have never tried that you cannot begin to understand the hoops through which you must jump, the hurdles over which you must scramble – and the icy indifference of the mandarins in Canberra.

So the clock kept ticking, more peak tourist periods passed by and finally Canberra replied.

No.

Mayor Weston, one of just three current councillors who were there when the wheels fell off, said this week there was no longer any choice.

He said Campaspe tried all the alternatives and in the end the only alternative was to fix it themselves.

Obviously it was not a budgeted item this year but by the time all the planning and approvals are done it will be a new budget year – and another peak tourist season gone – and the approach will be different.

The mayor and his team are adamant they have crunched the numbers to such a degree during the Federal process they believe their share of the project will come in at $920,000 – plus the insurance money.

Assuming, you must assume, there is no bad weather, not another flood, or any other crisis that might siphon off some of the working capital.

Hats off to mayor Weston and team for biting that bullet.

It is the only decisive action to have come out of this shambles. It is the only decision which has a clear goal and timeline.

Perhaps if mayor Weston had been at the helm in 2014 this might never have started.

But only hindsight has perfect vision.

And if everything goes to plan this time around we will have a new retaining wall and a very expensive vacant block of land.

The ratepayers and the commercial and tourism sectors of Echuca-Moama have, to a degree, been held to ransom while petty squabbles and inability have laid waste such a signature asset. They will now foot the bill to try and put the golden egg back together.

It didn’t work for Humpty Dumpty despite the assistance of all the king’s horses and all the king’s men.

Fortunately the mayor was a builder as well as a farmer so hopefully he will have better luck.

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