A re-elected Morrison Government will provide $6 million towards projects to protect and restore the coastal environments of Bells Beach, the Otways and the Great Ocean Road.

This iconic, heritage-listed coastal area is renowned for its rugged natural beauty, fossil sites, rock formations and surfing culture.

Our funding will be used to deliver practical projects that protect and enhance the native plants, wildlife and coastal environment.

We want to protect native fauna in the region such as the hooded plover, southern brown bandicoot, sugar glider and jacky tree dragon.

We want to restore native flora such as the indigenous grass ecosystems, coastal heaths, woodlands and the Anglesea heathlands with its unique orchids.

Our funding will be made available to local governments, Traditional Owners and volunteer groups to deliver on-ground environment restoration, help expand walking tracks and install appropriate fencing to enable local community access and use, while ensuring protection of the unique environment.

Funding will be provided from the Environment Restoration Fund announced in the 2019-20 Budget.

We will also work with the Victorian Government, local government, Traditional Owners and other stakeholders on options to further strengthen environmental protections for the region.

Community consultation will be an essential part of delivering greater environmental protection and support will be made available to ensure the community has a voice in developing the plans. This will include seeking advice from stakeholders on whether to initiate the process for the Great Ocean Road, the Otways and Bells Beach and its scenic environs to be nominated for inclusion on the World Heritage List and whether a jointly managed Commonwealth-State National Park could be suitable for the region. We will only proceed if these proposals have the support of the community.

Importantly, we will work to ensure this process does not jeopardise surfing events at Bells Beach or local community access and use.

The Liberal Nationals Government has already supported a World Heritage nomination for another site in south-west Victoria, with the nomination for the Budj Bim Cultural Landscape near Lake Condah formally accepted for assessment by the World Heritage Centre in 2018.

Our announcement today demonstrates our ongoing commitment to the protection of Victoria’s environment and heritage.