Agriculture Environment | November 17, 2020

Farmers’ rights ignored as riverfront camping bill passes

Nationals Member for Lowan Emma Kealy is extremely disappointed legislation that will allow people to camp on river frontage leased by farmers without gaining permission has passed Parliament.

Ms Kealy said that in the Upper House of the Victorian Parliament last week, Labor and crossbenchers voted to allow unrestricted camping access to thousands of kilometres of licensed water frontages in Victoria to pass the Parks and Crown Land Legislation Amendment Bill.

“This result is so disappointing for the rights of Lowan farmers,” Ms Kealy said.

“Farmers who hold riverfront leases take on the responsibility of a land manager, but they will now get no choice in who camps on that riverfront.

“This has the potential to create many problems and it is really going to open a can of worms.”

Ms Kealy said the Liberal Nationals supported more Victorians enjoying fishing and camping on public land but also wanted to safeguard native habitats on water frontages and protect farmers, their livestock and crops.

“To that end, the Liberal Nationals listened to the concerns of farmers and environmental groups and attempted to pass an amendment requiring the legislation be put on hold for six months,” she said.

“This was to allow proper community consultation with recreational groups, farmers and environmental groups, and allow for an amendment that would give farmer licensees a say, requiring campers to obtain permission before setting up camp and campfires.”

Ms Kealy said her office had received a number of calls from local farmers with riverfront leases, concerned about the impacts of the bill and the government’s lack of consultation on the issue.

“Granting permission would have been one simple way of ensuring that campers would be respectful of the local farmer, the environment and the ongoing sustainability of river management,” she said.

“Those who have supported this bill have ignored the genuine and reasonable concerns from the farming community and environmental groups.”

Camping on licensed water frontages can begin from September 1, 2021.

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