Outrage growing as Victorian government prepares to open crown land to campers

Outrage is growing among landholders as the state government prepares to open nearly 26,000 kilometres of Victorian's crown land water frontages to campers. Picture: Morgan Hancock
Outrage is growing among landholders as the state government prepares to open nearly 26,000 kilometres of Victorian's crown land water frontages to campers. Picture: Morgan Hancock

Outrage is growing among landholders as the state government prepares to open nearly 26,000 kilometres of Victorian's Crown land water frontages to campers.

As part of its 'Fishing and Boating' election commitments, the state government said it would: "guarantee access to fishing and camping on crown land that has river frontage" to further encourage people to spend time in the outdoors.

Legislation to amend the Land Act is currently before the upper house.

Farmers have expressed concerns for their personal safety, biosecurity and fear vandalism will increase, if the proposed changes to the Land Act are passed.

But Victorian Farmers Federation Land Management Committee chair Gerald Leach said farmers were trying to convince the government it was the wrong way to go.

"Our position is that we believe it's a really bad move," he said.

"It places licence holders in a very difficult position, things can be going on on their land, they are not aware of.

"It increases biosecurity risks, quite significantly, in terms of letting exotic animal diseases in."

He said he felt the push was motivated by political deals, done behind closed doors.

"It would be like somebody renting a house, in suburbia, but being told they couldn't come and stop someone camping, and having a picnic on their lawn," he said.

"We would certainly hope common sense prevails, but we have been given no indication yet, that will be the case."

VRFish executive officer Mike Burgess said changes to the law would be followed by regulations.

"There may be some areas that are not suitable for camping," Mr Burgess said.

"But those areas that are will offer a great opportunity for getting people out and about, relaxing, whilst they are fishing."

He said currently public access was already mandated in those areas anyway.

"From our point of view, we will obviously be encouraging everybody to do the right thing," he said.

"We will certainly be backing it up with a code of conduct, as to how we want our fishers to respect the area, respect the adjacent landholders and also the environment they are stepping into."

He dismissed claims campsites would be set up on all of Victoria's 26,000 kilometres of waterways.

"In reality, you will find there are some really great spots identified by recreational fishers, that tick all the boxes for a suitable camping location," he said.

"I don't think we are talking about 26,000km worth of campsites, dotted around every river and stream."

This story Outrage grows as state government prepares to open Crown land to campers first appeared on Stock & Land.