A VISIT to Glenfalloch Station, Licola by Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Melina Bath has highlighted the complexities of changes to licensed river frontages regulations.
Ms Bath said it was important to see firsthand and listen to valid concerns of farmers who would soon be faced with the task of managing public access on their licensed river frontages.
“The draft regulations in their current format raise more questions than answers,” Ms Bath said.
“Questions relating to waste management, water quality, bushfire risk, vulnerable species, biosecurity, public liability and protection of stock need addressing.
“There will need to be some compromise by all parties to achieve an acceptable outcome.
“Looking specifically at the Macalister river system, there needs to be consideration to ensure that public accessibility will not negatively impact on soil erosion, riverbank stabilisation, native vegetation regeneration and water quality.
“Currently licence holders are undertaking significant environmental rehabilitation on behalf of the state government, however, if public access is not adequately managed, important restoration work could be put at risk.”
Ms Bath said farmers were concerned the draft regulations failed to mention the landholder or issues such as trespass and public liability.
“Allowing public access on licensed river frontages is a complex issue and, frustratingly, Labor has pushed through the legislation without comprehensive analysis of the consequences.
“Many fear, in the absence of adequate resourcing including additional authorised officers, farmers will be left to do the policing, in effect becoming park rangers.”
Ms Bath said while she was a passionate supporter of public land access, any regulations must be well researched, negotiated and balanced to avoid unnecessary conflicts between interested parties and impacts on sensitive environments.
“Many landholders like Glenfalloch Station hold a genuine commitment to enhancing dynamic river ecosystems and it is imperative that the Andrews Government gets it right.”
Public submissions on the licensed river frontage draft regulations are closing soon and can be made at engage.vic.gov.au/regulated-watercourse-land-regulations.