I read with interest the letter to the editor ‘Caravan parks are a protected species’ in your Tuesday March 18 edition.
In response I would like to make a couple of comments.
Caravan park owners are local ratepayers and employers of local people and above all are businesses just like any other in their local areas.
A caravan park owner invests their money and in most cases their life savings into their businesses. They have debts, again just like any other business.
To be able to operate, parks must be registered and pay a fee to their local council and to do so must comply with the Residential Tenancies (Caravan Parks and Movable Dwellings Registration and Standards) Regulations 2010, whether or not they just offer just camping sites or have cabins as well.
Part of the renewal process demands that there be Emergency Management Plans documented and approved, they must comply with CFA inspected fire services and regulations and many other regulations that are imposed upon them.
They must undertake risk assessments of their business premises and carry extensive Public Liability insurances.
Of course, most other businesses to greater or lesser degree, need to comply with similar conditions.
Where are the Risk Management Plans, Fire Service facilities and management plans, Public Liability Insurance Policies and other regulatory compliance conditions that caravan parks (and other businesses) by law, must have in place, when travellers stay at a ‘free’ campsite?
What protects travellers in the event of the unforseen?
Is this a major point of difference that could be deemed to be unfair in terms of competitive neutrality?
The real point here is that the South Gippsland Shire Council and Mr McGaw are in support of a proposal currently before council that ratepayers should be subsidising RV travellers to stay in the shire areas for free or at a reduced cost.
How would the ratepayers feel if their local shire council was to subsidise with their rate payments, the supply of free or heavily discounted fuel, coffees at coffee shops, food at restaurants and hotels, supermarkets or take away outlets, or alcohol from liquor outlets etc.?
Why should councils limit subsidising travellers to just camping site usage? Why not subsidise all of the above as well?
Would this be acceptable to the local communities as a prudent use of their rate payment monies, particularly when we see in the newspapers quite regularly, comment regarding council wastage and the public questioning of what the primary function of councils should be?
Finally, the TIRF grants mentioned in the letter last week were not limited to caravan parks, but were open for applications to a wide range of bodies that operate in the tourism sector to enhance local facilities and increase tourism.
Shire councils were not excluded from applying.
To only mention caravan parks as recipients of these monies (that are no longer available) is both mischievous and misleading just as is the question – caravan parks, a protected species?
Elizabeth White, CEO Victorian Caravan Parks Association Inc