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  • Rikki Lambert

Victorian farmers fired up about Andrews government camping plans

The Victorian Opposition says 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 would mean farmers and other private landholders involuntarily performing as park rangers and campground caretakers, managing and cleaning up after campers where their land held under licence abuts a river.

The debate over the Andrews government's proposals went to the steps of Parliament House on Tuesday morning, 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.
“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 government proposal would 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.

“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.”

VFF president Emma Germano told the rally of hundreds of impacted landholders that the VFF was seeking a 12-month stay on the implementation of the regulations:

“Our riparian land is important for farming, important for the environment and important culturally.”
“Today is another show of strength and resolve and the ball is now in the Government’s court. Now they need to show that they care about the rivers, the environment and the farmers.”

A government spokesperson told FlowNews24 on Tuesday afternoon:

"We extended the consultation period for the draft regulations to ensure we could understand people’s concerns.
"While the public consultation has finished, we continue to engage with a number of key stakeholders.
"We understand how important it is to get this election commitment right - and we will have more to say soon."


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