Farmers are furious at being shut out of the Andrews Labor Government’s bungled attempts to deliver a pre-election promise to open more sites for riverfront camping in Victoria.
Community backlash forced Labor to backtrack from its original promise to open 17,000km of river front land to campers, to instead trial the changes at 27 sites, including on the Campaspe, Loddon and Murray rivers, from September 1.
But in a trainwreck interview with the ABC today, Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio admitted the Government still hadn’t done the work to confirm any trial sites or to consult with farmers.
Leader of The Nationals Peter Walsh said it appeared the Minister had been caught in a lie, after claiming on August 6 this year that the Government was already ‘reviewing potential sites’.
“The Andrews Labor Government has botched this process from day one, with its lack of consultation only serving to anger farmers, licence holders, Landcare groups, Traditional owners and campers,” Mr Walsh said.
“With the scheme due to start today, we still have no idea where these pilot sites are, or what regulations are going to be put in place or how they’ll be enforced.
“Labor forced this plan on landholders to buy votes in Melbourne and it is completely unfair that they haven’t even bothered to tell landholders how they will be affected.”
Landholders and farmers who hold licenses to use the riverbanks work hard to protect these areas from pollution and environmental damage.
Mr Walsh said the Andrews Government had failed to resolve farmers’ concerns these changes will leave them exposed to liability or forced to bear the cost of damage to fences and gates.
“There are landholders who could have people camping on their front lawns and others who are deeply worried about the biosecurity and bushfire risks,” Mr Walsh said.
“Others who hold river frontage under different arrangements have told me they have had people demanding to camp as their right.
“If The Nationals are elected to government in November 2022, we will make the legislative changes needed to give local landholders their voices back.”