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    Member for Lowan Emma Kealy.

Kealy: Back down on river camping a win

The entire July 21, 2021 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

Member for Lowan Emma Kealy has described a State Government back down on a proposal to allow waterfront camping on 17,000 kilometres of licensed river front as a win for farmers and environmental groups.

Ms Kealy said the plan would have  placed unreasonable demands on waterways and the environment, and unfairly exposed farmers to a variety of issues.

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“The back down comes after the Liberal-Nationals exposed Labor at a parliamentary hearing last month for failing to provide a single cent in the 2021-22 state budget to monitor and enforce its new camping regulations and instead cut 15 percent from the environment and biodiversity budget,” she said.

“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.

“It’s 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.

“Labor arrogantly ignored 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.”

Ms Kealy said it was important Victorians had opportunities to fish and camp on public land.

“But the Liberal-Nationals had repeatedly called on the government to ensure farmers and environmental groups were not worse off by their legislative changes,” she said.

“Labor’s new camping laws have been botched from the start and the minister has now been forced into an embarrassing backflip.

“While 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.”