A NEW spring was put in the step of Easter holiday campers with the announcement by Victoria’s Minister for Environment, Lisa Neville, that fees for basic camping sites would be scrapped.
The minister made the announcement last Thursday, just ahead of the Easter break. It came into effect immediately, meaning that over 500 basic camping sites in 19 parks across regional Victoria no longer have fees.
A basic site is defined as unserviced, with minimal ranger patrols and pit or no-pit toilets. From July 1 these sites will no longer require booking and will be available on a first come, first served basis.
There are no basic camping sites in the Prom Coast district, but the government has asked Parks Victoria to review all other camping options. This could lead to lower fees for campers – and there were many of those this Easter – at Bear Gully, Wilsons Promontory and the other camping grounds in this district.
The minister said she was keen to ensure a correct balance between affordable holidays and funding for new facilities.
“The Coalition reduced Parks Victoria funding by $88 million since 2011, making families pay – charging them a fee for pitching a tent in a park,” said Ms Neville.
The Nationals Member for Gippsland South Danny O’Brien said he welcomed the announcement that Parks Victoria would be reviewing camping fees for Victorian national parks.
“In the lead-up to the Gippsland South by-election I called for a review of camping fees, so to hear today that a review has been announced is pleasing,” Mr O’Brien said.
“The rise in fees has been prohibitive for some people which has in turn seen a decrease in campers visiting and staying in our magnificent national parks in Gippsland. I am also pleased to see most basic camp sites will now be free.
“Campers provide a huge boost to our local economies so it’s important that we continue to make it affordable and attractive to them.”
Mr O’Brien said a number of constituents had raised the issue of camping fees with him and he urged people to provide input when more details of the review are released.
The Shadow Minister for Environment, Brad Battin, however, accused the Andrews Government of “breath-taking hypocrisy” since it was a Labor-commissioned report that recommended new camping fees in the first place.
“Labor’s own report exposed a $178 million black hole in funding for Parks Victoria,” he said.
“Daniel Andrews must commit to properly funding Parks Victoria and ensuring the best camping facilities for families.”