Apps and new campsites are among the solutions Victorian farmers have presented to the Victorian Government as it works to allow camping on licensed river frontages.
- Farmers are suggesting a range of measures to achieve a compromise as the government moves to make good on an election promise
- The VFF is concerned the debate over river frontage access has already strained relationships among the interested parties
- A Nationals MP says farmers should not have to “police” riverfronts or clean up “other people’s defecated business”
Consultation yesterday ended on regulations that would underpin the state government’s election commitment allowing people to camp on Crown river frontages that have been licensed to farmers for grazing.
In its submission, the Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) said it had shifted its focus to protecting landholders in recognition of the government’s “will” to implement the policy.
The peak body’s president, Emma Germano, said a registration system was needed to enable farmers to trace when campers arrived on a property and where they went.
“Under the proposed rules farmers will not be able to meet the traceability requirements under biosecurity quality assurance systems,” she said.
The VFF was also concerned that the debate over the merits of allowing people to camp on licensed frontages had damaged the relationship between farmers, Landcare and the government.
New sites a possibility
Gippsland farmer Will Paul said opening new campsites would combat the ambiguity “between private and public land and allow the protection of sensitive environments”.
His family owns Glenfalloch Station, a 4,860 hectare property with 10 kilometres of frontage along the Macalister River south of Licola.
The family has a five-year grazing licence Mr Paul said was worth “in the order of thousands of dollars per year”.
People can already access licensed river frontages for day use and Mr Paul said he already allowed fishing groups access to the land.
Kayakers, he said, occasionally stopped on their way down the river.
Concerns must be addressed
The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria, Melina Bath, said farmers had raised a range of concerns about the draft regulations in their submissions.
She said she was concerned they would not be adequately addressed.
“It’s vital they get it right,” Ms Bath said.
“It’s also vital the Andrews government gets it right in terms of our farming community.
“We don’t want [farmers] to end up having to be policemen, walking up and down the rivers taking away rubbish and dealing with people’s defecated business.”
The government said more than 1,100 submissions had been received but did not confirm the exact figure.
“We will continue to encourage families and friends to spend time together in the outdoors,” a spokesperson said.
“We understand there is significant interest in the proposed changes and that is why we extended the consultation period until April 26, to allow more people – including traditional owner groups – to respond to the draft regulations which will govern camping on these areas.”