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Victorian Government turns back management of its Alpine Resorts
The Victorian Government has changed direction in the management of its Alpine Resorts at Mt Baw Baw and Lake Mountain, ending Belgravia Leisure’s management of the locations.
The change will see the boards responsible for managing Lake Mountain and Mount Baw Baw merged to improve governance at the resorts, with operations at Lake Mountain and Baw Baw to return to direct board control from April 2016.
Citing a need to respond "to the community’s request for a clear direction on the future" of the resorts, a Victorian Government statement explains that the changes are required "to enable the Lake Mountain and Mt Baw Baw alpine resorts to adapt to climate change and ensure the economic and social benefits that flow from the alpine resorts to the surrounding regional communities are maximised."
Victorian Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water Lisa Neville that the Lake Mountain and Mt Baw Baw Alpine Resort Management Boards (ARMBs) will lead the process of working with stakeholders to determine the preferred future of the small alpine resorts.
Stakeholders involved in the process will include lodge owners, business operators, members of the surrounding community, resort staff, visitors, regional tourism boards, local government, Regional Development Victoria and Victoria’s Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning.
The ARMBs will present their recommendations to the Government by September 2016.
Minister Neville suggested that the changes will address the concerns expressed in the Victoria Auditor General’s Office (VAGO) report that the boards at Lake Mountain and Mount Baw Baw have not maintained adequate oversight, internal control and legislative compliance of their financial operations.
VAGO raised concerns similar concerns regarding the Falls Creek’s financial management which Minister Neville said was being addressed by the Falls Creek ARMB.
Falls Creek Resort Management (FCRM) Chief Executive David Herman left the resort earlier this year amid reports of staff accessing pornography using the FCRM's computers, financial mismanagement and misuse of public money.
Minister Neville explained “I take the issues raised by the Auditor General seriously and I‘ve advised the three alpine boards that governance and risk management must be improved.
“The three alpine boards have provided assurances to me that they are implementing actions to improve future reporting and compliance.”
“The outsourcing arrangement with Belgravia Leisure will be concluded and replaced by the new board.”
Belgravia Leisure only began managing the Mount Baw Baw Alpine Resort in April last year having been appointed by the Lake Mountain Alpine Resort Management Board and the Victorian Government to manage Lake Mountain in 2012. It also undertook finance and administration operations at Falls Creek from September 2014.
A report in Melbourne newspaper the Herald Sun today suggested Belgravia Leisure was being used as a “scapegoat” for the errors of previous managers – with the accounting errors at Falls Creek occurring between 2010 and 2013 – prior to its management being contracted out as of last year.
Commenting on the ending of their contracts, Belgravia Leisure Chief Executive Nick Cox statied “Belgravia Leisure is proud of our achievements whilst being contracted to manage the Alpine Resorts on behalf of the Alpine Resort Management Boards.
“Our work has seen an improved patronage, customer satisfaction and economic management of the Alpine Resorts, the results speak for themselves.”
Cox also highlighted a range of saving and achievements:
• Under Belgravia Leisure’s management there was an 80% savings on the government subsidy required to fund the operational costs of Lake Mountain
• Under Belgravia Leisure’s management there was an 34% savings on the government subsidy required to fund the operational costs of Mt Baw Baw
• Belgravia Leisure delivered collective annual Government savings of $3.5million per annum
Customer Satisfaction (as measured independently by Woollcott research)
• Under Belgravia Leisure’s management Lake Mountain increased its net promoter score (NPS) from -1 in 2012 to +29 in 2015
• Under Belgravia Leisure’s management Mt Baw Baw’s NPS increased from +11 in 2012 to +41 in 2015
• Under Belgravia Leisure’s management visitation at Mt Baw Baw under Belgravia Leisure management increased 108% since 2013 and has increased by 12% at Lake Mountain since 2012
• Belgravia Leisure invested heavily in the financial resources to improve the governance and risk management practices that was occurring at each of the Alpine resorts.
Cox concluded “Belgravia Leisure is also well aware of and committed to the environmental and social sustainability requirements, including climate change adaptation.”
Article amended, 4pm 10th December 2015.
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