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Farmers given the cold shoulder, again

The Andrews Labor Government has again failed farmers – this time by excluding them from the critical consultation process to assess 27 pilot sites for camping on licensed river frontages.

The controversial decision to allow camping on licensed river frontages without a plan for proper consultation and risk assessment shows the Andrews Labor Government has no clue about farming communities.

State Liberal Member for Eildon, Cindy McLeish said it is a shame but no surprise that farmers have once again been given the cold shoulder by Daniel Andrews in the decision-making process.

Ms McLeish said, “Farmers and licensed land holders were put to the bottom of the pile last year when the Andrews Labor Government began developing camping regulations.”

“Land holder’s expertise and knowledge of the land, waterways, and of the risks involved if opened to campers, were not sought after by the Andrews Labor Government. It looks like the government is overlooking the opportunity again.”

The 27 piloted sites located somewhere along the Goulburn, Ovens, Broken, Loddon and Campaspe rivers have still not been revealed.

Ms McLeish continues, “The government’s plan to allow camping on licensed river frontages has been flawed from the start. They clearly didn’t think about the large number of issues involved and didn’t meet their deadline to have camping sites available from the 1 September 2021.”

Despite riparian management licence areas and conservation areas not being included in the assessment for camping locations, there are still many concerns about the damage campers can cause to biosecurity and farming biological control risks, the possible pollution to water supply with human waste and environmental concerns. There is also no detail of the proximity to caravan parks and how it may affect visitation numbers.

The mitigation of livestock interference, and uncertainty about liability matters are still all grey areas due to inadequate resources.

The draft camping regulations published by the State Labor Government earlier this year received major backlash from license land holders, farmers, Landcare groups and the Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF), forcing the government to backdown on their plans.

“Daniel Andrews needs to open communications with land holders and stop turning a blind eye. Opening the river frontages to campers will detrimentally impact farming, agriculture, live stock and the environment. Listen to their concerns and take them on board before it is too late,” Ms McLeish concludes.

Land holders have always been accommodating to fishermen using the waterways but there is a stark difference in the solitude of fishing and land being used for camping for prolonged periods.


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