Labor backdown on botched camping plan

Reading a Newspaper

Friday 16 July 2021

The Andrews Labor Government has been forced into an embarrassing backdown on its plan to allow camping and campfires on 17,000 kms of licensed river frontages in September this year, that would place unreasonable demands on these precious waterways and our environment, and unfairly expose farmers.

It’s a win for farmers and environmental groups who have slammed the Andrews Labor Government for ramming through new laws, without consultation, that would have allowed campers to light fires and camp for 28 days straight within 200 metres from farmers’ homes, risking biodiversity and biosecurity.

This 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, Minister for Environment, Lily D’Ambrosio, also confirmed there was no plan to support 10,000 farmers holding state-issued licenses to use this land who could no longer obtain adequate insurance for the increased risks of pollution, fire and biosecurity hazards resulting from Labor’s new laws.

Last year, the Labor Government ganged up with the crossbench to ram through these poorly planned laws, arrogantly ignoring genuine concerns of farmers and environmentalists. However, after significant pressure from farmers, environmental groups such as Landcare, and the Liberal Nationals in Parliament, Labor has been forced to admit its new laws are flawed.

Whilst it is important that Victorians have more opportunities 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 has failed to get the balance right with these regulations and has been forced into an embarrassing backflip, proving once again they have no plan to protect Victoria’s environment.

Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Bridget Vallence:

“Labor’s new camping laws have been botched from the start, and this backflip comes after significant pressure from farmers, environmental groups including Landcare and the Liberal Nationals.

“Just last month, the Liberal Nationals exposed Labor for not providing a single cent of new funding in the 21/22 Budget to monitor or enforce its proposed new regulations and ignoring farmers who could no longer obtain adequate insurance as a result of Labor’s new laws.

“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.

“It’s clear that Daniel Andrews and Labor have failed to get the balance right with their waterfront camping regulations and have no plan to protect Victoria’s environment.”