• Loddon Herald

River rule bungle fury

THE State Government is under fire over its implementation of new rules that allow camping on Crown riverfront land licensed to local farmers.

Farmers claim they have not been consulted about the first 27 sites, including spots along the Loddon River.

A Government spokesperson last week told the Loddon Herald on the eve of the rules becoming operational, that there would be more to say “soon” on site locations.

Victorian Farmers Federation said disrespect continued as farmers are shut out of the camping site assessment process.

President Emma Germano said while farmers with licences impacted by the 27 pilot sites had been notified an assessment was taking place, they were not being consulted in the assessment.

“Currently licence holders are only being notified that an assessment is taking place on their licensed frontage. This needs to change. How can the impacts be assessed without speaking to the impacted farmer?”

“No one knows the land better than farmers who live and work on it every day. It’s a no-brainer to involve farmers in this process,” Ms Germano said.

And Murray Plains MP Peter Walsh said farmers were furious at being shut out.

He said community backlash had forced Labor to backtrack from its original promise to open 17,000km of river front land to campers, to instead trial the changes at 27 sites, including on the Campaspe, Loddon and Murray Rivers, from September 1.

But he said that in a trainwreck interview with the ABC today, Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio admitted the Government still had not done the work to confirm any trial sites or to consult with farmers.

Mr Walsh said it appeared the Minister had been caught out after claiming on August 6 that the Government was already “reviewing potential sites”.

“The Andrews Labor Government has botched this process from day one, with its lack of consultation only serving to anger farmers, licence holders, Landcare groups, Traditional owners and campers,” Mr Walsh said.

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