EDITORIAL: Parks fee is fairer for all
A PLAN to charge campers to stay in Victoria’s national park camping grounds is “fair and reasonable”, according to Benalla MP Bill Sykes.
Dr Sykes yesterday said the user-pays model would bring the state in line with the rest of the country and ensure taxpayers did not pay for services they didn’t use.
The rise at Mount Buffalo, in Dr Sykes’ electorate, will be about $4 a person. A family of four will pay about $48 a night.
Basic-service grounds would cost a family of four $13 a night — the cheapest of all states — rising at mid, high and very high service grounds to $59.
“Asking $13 for overnight accommodation in Victoria is pretty reasonable,” Dr Sykes said.
“It’s the cost of a coffee and a meat pie.”
The state government has called for submissions on its plan to charge $13 to $59 a night to use camping grounds.
It will be the first time most parks have charged fees. The 24 that already charge will lift their fees.
The government has said all fees will be spent on parks maintenance and infrastructure.
Dr Sykes said he didn’t have a problem with a user-pays model.
“If you’re not using it, you don’t pay,” he said.
He said from a wider point of view, such things as health, public transport or ambulance services that affected more people all required funding.
He said all other states already charged campers.
The level of services at a camping ground would determine the fee.
Victorian Environment Minister Ryan Smith said the $8 million a year the plan would raise would help offset a $10 million shortfall in campsite maintenance costs.
But opposition environment spokeswoman Lisa Neville said the Labor government had found collecting and administering fees would cost more than the revenue.
“The fees will hurt families and do little — or nothing — to protect and develop the parks,” she said.
She also said fewer people would visit parks if fees applied.