Peter Walsh calls for more state government support of Southern 80

By Charmayne Allison

MEMBER for Murray Plains Peter Walsh has called on the Victorian Government to support community groups in regional Victoria to hold events that bring positive social and economic benefits to local communities.

Speaking in State Parliament recently, Mr Walsh said Echuca’s iconic Southern 80 ski race, organised by the Moama Water Sports Club, was one such event that deserved government support.

“The New South Wales government assist with sponsorship and the cost of staging the Southern 80 through their Destination NSW program,” Mr Walsh said.

“But the Andrews Labor Government will not assist with staging this event, even though it’s a key part of the calendar for regional Victoria.

“The Moama Water Sports Club feel let down by the rejection they receive each year from the Andrews Government to their approaches for assistance.”

The event sees competitors race along the Murray River between Torrumbarry and Echuca and since it started in 1965 it’s grown to be a major tourist attraction for the Echuca-Moama area.

Around 900 competitors from juniors through to the senior age groups compete, with more than 260 boats involved, plus support crews.

“Thousands of spectators come to Echuca-Moama for the weekend to set up along both sides of the Murray River at whatever vantage points are there to make sure they can see the boats and the skiers go past,” Mr Walsh said.

“This year it was estimated that the race and the visitation to the area actually generated over $13 million worth of economic benefit to Echuca-Moama.

“I urge the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events to come on board, to actually come to the Southern 80 in Echuca and see what this race does in attracting visitation to the area.

“It is a major part of the events calendar in regional Victoria and deserves support.”