Mr SOUTHWICK (Caulfield) — I raise a matter for the Minister for Agriculture and Food Security. The action I seek is that the minister consider including the lake at Caulfield Racecourse Reserve in the Family Fishing Lakes program for the school holiday period. In 2012 I was fortunate enough to join the minister in releasing 1000 trout into Albert Park Lake as part of the fishing program, which is a great program giving young people the opportunity to learn about fishing. I recall on that day being inappropriately dressed in my suit and being shown up by the minister, who arrived suitably attired in gumboots to get into the water and release the fish. I assure members that this time, if the minister comes to Caulfield Racecourse, I will wear the appropriate gear to release fish into the racecourse lake.
My electorate of Caulfield has a rich history of fishing. In 1879 it was part of a string of swamps stretching out to the east and along Dandenong Road. In the early years of settlement deeper water pools were fished commercially by fishermen who sold their catch in nearby shopping centres or from barrows wheeled door to door. Long after this was disallowed, children continued to collect fish, yabbies and even leeches for the local chemists, both as a sport and as a way to earn money.
Today we have a racecourse reserve on Crown land that outside of racing activities is a park with barbecue facilities, picnic areas, a small sports ground, a walking track, an off‑leash dog park, a place to fly model planes and, importantly, a fishing lake. Since being elected in 2010 I have been looking at ways to get more people to use and appreciate this fantastic public space in Caulfield. Last year as part of the opening of the upgraded centre reserve I hosted a fun run that attracted 1000 people and raised almost $50 000 for charity. Unfortunately it is difficult to access the centre reserve because of fencing around it.
I understand that in the past a number of keen fishermen frequented the lake when it was stocked by Fisheries Victoria, but it is a local well‑kept secret. I also understand that between April and November each year the Department of Environment and Primary Industries and Fisheries Victoria release some 600 000 to 700 000 trout and salmon into Victoria’s public waterways. The school holiday period is a great time for children to have a go at catching their first fish, and I can think of no better place than at the racecourse reserve lake. Glen Eira City Council, Caulfield Racecourse Reserve Trust, Melbourne Racing Club and I have been talking for a number of years about ways to activate this area. We need to provide these types of activities to encourage visitors to the area. I am looking at many different ways to encourage people to come to the racecourse reserve. It is a great area with a huge footprint of land. It is the people’s park, and we need to do what we can to get people to utilise it. I ask the minister to take up this important program.