Farmers fear they will be exposed to safety risks of unattended campfires and the burden of cleaning up waste left by campers under Labor’s proposed changes to camping on licenced river frontages.
The changes will see landholders essentially forced to act as park rangers and campground caretakers with the responsibility of managing and cleaning up after campers where their land held under licence abuts a river.
The fight came to the steps of State Parliament today, with farmers and landholders from Gippsland and the north east joining with the Mitta Mitta Action Group and the Murray River Action Group to stand together against the changes.
Leader of The Nationals Peter Walsh spoke at the rally and backed calls to reconsider the proposed reform.
“Victoria has thousands of kilometres of river frontages, it’s wrong that Daniel Andrews is making farmers responsible for managing camping on them,” Mr Walsh said.
“Questions relating to waste management, water quality, bushfire risk, vulnerable species, biosecurity, public liability and protection of stock have not been addressed by the Labor Government.
“Does the Labor Government really expect our hard-working farmers to issue camping permits, protect livestock and farm biosecurity, rotate campers, clean up waste, protect habitat, perform bank regeneration works and manage their farms?”
The Victorian Farmers Federation has also called out the changes, which it says will pose a biosecurity risk on farms.
The proposal will allow campers to remain on a licenced river frontage for up to 28 days.
The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region and Shadow Assistant Minister for Public Land Use Melina Bath said she had heard from many landholders who were incensed by the Andrews Labor Government’s plans.
“Camping on public land should remain the responsibility of Department of Land, Water and Environment (DELWP) and Parks Victoria,” Ms Bath said.
“Unfortunately, as it stands under the Labor Government, both DELWP and Parks Victoria aren’t adequately resourced to manage the current demand for camping on Victoria’s public land, including managing waste and checking for abandoned camp fires.
“Bushfire risk from unattended campfires, water quality degradation from human waste, river bank erosion, habitat destruction and mixing cattle and campers are all issues that the Andrews Labor Government has failed to consider.”