This week at State Parliament, hundreds of landholders from across Victoria rallied against the Andrews Labor Government’s flawed regulations that would see camping allowed on land licensed to farmers for grazing.
Nationals Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, spoke with those from East Gippsland who have significant and justified concerns.
“This was a Bill the Liberal Nationals attempted to move many amendments to in the hope of protecting farmers’ rights, but all were defeated, with the Shooters and Fishers siding with the Labor Government on those attempted changes,” said Mr Bull.
“It is a classic case of a thought bubble policy with no thought given to how it will play out on the ground. They are asking farmers to allow the public open access to areas that are their workplace.
“Some examples of the anomalies are that people can camp within 100 metres of a farmer’s home for 28 days and they can collect half a cubic metre of firewood per day (if camping for a week that is three and a half cubic metres of firewood).
“This is despite farmers not being able to collect firewood themselves on land they have under licence for grazing.
“The Labor Government is saying it will have these areas displayed on an app, so camping groups can just turn up, but the additional problem is, many of these areas are remote and have no reception, so the app will be hard to access meaning they may not arrive in the right spot.
“The Government says it will have regulations around campfires, rubbish and biosecurity, but we all know what happens. These areas are poorly policed now and the government has confirmed not one additional enforcement officer will be provided to oversee this.
“Every year we have Parks put out media releases saying how disappointed they are so many campfires have been left unattended – so what is the answer, we will now let this happen on farms and we are providing no more enforcement officers.
“I have always been a strong advocate for the outdoors, camping and family time, but it has to be fair and this is just not fair.”
Mr Bull said he had also been contacted by caravan park owners near riversides who are concerned about their ongoing viability if all these additional areas nearby are opened up to free camping. One said it could put him to the wall.
“We believe farmers should have an ‘opt in’ and opt out’ option as to whether they are happy to be part of this.
“The biosecurity concerns for a start are very real and you just cannot be relying on people to close gates and not spread weeds. For many it will impact on their right to farm and they will inevitably have to pick up rubbish, excrement and check on camp fires.”
Caption: Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, chats with owner of Glenfalloch Station at Licola, Will Paul, who has significant concerns with the current proposals.
Wednesday, 26 May 2021