Environment Agriculture tourism | July 19, 2021
Labor forced to backdown on waterfront camping plan
The Andrews Labor Government has been forced into an embarrassing backdown on its plan to allow camping on 17,000 kms of licensed river frontages that would have placed unreasonable demands on these precious waterways and our environment, and unfairly exposed farmers.
The backdown comes after the Liberal Nationals exposed Labor at a Parliamentary hearing last month for failing to provide a single cent of funding in the 2021-22 State Budget to monitor and enforce its new camping regulations, instead cutting 15 per cent from the Environment and Biodiversity budget.
During the hearings the Minister for Environment also confirmed there was no plan to support the 10,000 farmers who hold state-issued licenses to use this land, and who could no longer obtain adequate insurance to cover the increased risks of pollution, fire and biosecurity hazards resulting from Labor’s new laws.
The Nationals Member for Lowan, Emma Kealy said the backdown was a win for farmers and environmental groups who have slammed Labor for ramming through new laws without consultation.
“Last year Labor ganged up with the crossbench to ram through these poorly planned laws that would have put biodiversity and biosecurity at risk and allowed campers to light fires and camp for 28 days straight within 200 metres of farmers’ homes,” Ms Kealy said.
“Labor arrogantly ignoring genuine concerns of farmers and environmentalists however after significant pressure from farmers and environmental groups such as Landcare and the Liberal Nationals in Parliament, the Minister has been forced to admit the new laws are flawed.
“Whilst it is important Victorians have the opportunity to fish and camp on public land, the Liberal Nationals have repeatedly called on the government to ensure farmers and environmental groups were not made worse off by their legislative changes.
“Labor’s new camping laws have been botched from the start and the Minister has now been forced into an embarrassing backflip.
“Whilst we support more opportunities for recreation on public land, there must also be strong safeguards that protect people, our native environment and wildlife, and farms.”
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