GrampiansParks Victoria manages more than 28,000 assets, including facilities such as toilet blocks, parks and gardens, recreational spaces, playgrounds, piers and sporting grounds1.

Lately, there’s been a squabble over how one of Parks Victoria’s assets is being managed. What happens when there’s a dispute over managing assets? Who tells who what to do?

In February 2019, Parks Victoria placed a ban on rock climbing in the Grampians, the rugged and spiritual national park and mountain region just outside of Stawell and Ararat in Western Victoria. The ban stated that rock climbing in the Grampians region flouted the cultural heritage of the site, according to the traditional owners of the land.

The Australian Climbing Association Victoria (ACAV) has sought legal advice, seeking to overturn the ban. The ACAV states that the Andrews government has unfairly singled out climbers, accusing them of lighting fires illegally, stripping vegetation and causing erosionto the land. Lawyers acting on behalf of the ACAV state that the climbing prohibitions are ‘legally unreasonable and disproportionate to the supposed mischief to be addressed3.'

This legal stoush highlights some of the difficulties that lie in asset management. In some cases, certainly in private enterprise, it’s clear who owns the assets. But in the government sector, it’s not as distinct. For example, in this situation, there are voices who might argue the traditional owners of the land own the asset, while others acknowledge ownership as the elected government. But parks are public spaces, yet even others may state that the Grampians are owned by us all: tourists, Victorians, Australians, our indigenous people alike.

It cannot be overstated that careful management of our national parks, recreational spaces, and other public areas is a must. But as any asset manager would know, it is sometimes a fraught and difficult process.

Are you working in asset management in the government and infrastructure sector? Let us know your thoughts on the subject of ownership of assets. How do you get around the issues? Consider joining our Government Special Interest Group if you’d like to know more about asset management in government and infrastructure.

Photo by Manuel Meurisse on Unsplash

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