A Matt Guy Liberals and Nationals Government will give power back to landholders to decide who can camp on their river frontages while beefing up penalties to those who flout the rules.
The new plan will address the many failures of the existing Land Act 1958 and regulations imposed on lessees from September last year.
It will address concerns of landholders and farmers who lease frontages on the more than 17,000km of river frontage across the state that range from biosecurity on farms to personal safety and the potential threat of litigation.
The Act and its associated regulations would be more balanced with landholder permission a pre-requisite to camping, licensees authorised to remove consent upon a reasonable belief there has been a breach of determinations, while penalties applied to those who breach the rules could include increased penalties and the potential for seizure of fishing and camping equipment, vehicles and vessels.
The changes would also include preventative measures against biosecurity threats and potential environmental damage. Recreational users will continue to be able to access these frontages and have reasonable access for camping.
The suitability of sites that have already been identified would also be re-assessed. Additionally, we will review and re-assess the existing leases to enhance the experience for the fishers, campers and adjacent leaseholders.
Victorian Liberal Leader, Matt Guy, said the existing regulations that allow a camper free for all are just not acceptable and are a threat to the biosecurity on what is often a working farm.
“Bill and I have met with farmers and it’s clear that we need to strike a balance between access to public space and the potential threat to our livestock industry,” Mr Guy said.
“This policy provides better protection of waterways and land as well as protections for licence holders, their stock and property.”
Shadow Minister for Fishing and Boating, Bill Tilley, said the new measures would ensure there is no grey area, and put certainty back into the hands of landholders.
“Landholders are understandably worried and despite repeated requests they remain uneasy about the threat of being sued,” Mr Tilley said.
“For decades an informal system has operated with farmers allowing campers when asked – they don’t have a problem with that, but the current rules are a free-for-all.
“The failings of the current laws are real and need to be fixed, and we will fix them.”