Victorian Upper House MP Tim Quilty has justified his decision in backing moves to make licenced Crown land open to campers during a meeting of angry landowners on Tuesday night.
A statement from the Liberal Democrats MP was read to the meeting convened by the Murray River Action Group by a staff member, Graham Springett, in the absence of Mr Quilty, who was in Melbourne on parliamentary business.
Mr Springett met a hostile reception from more than 100 farmers at the Howlong community hall.
One Murray River farmer, who didn't want to be named, raised the contentious issue of liability in the event someone was killed on their property and was told the landowner would be responsible.
MRAG chairman Richard Sargood said farmers needed to make submissions before Monday's deadline.
"We've got our backs to the wall and we need to find a way to the other side," he said.
The meeting called on local MPs to do everything possible to repeal the Parks and Crown Land Legislation Amendment Bill because it was "unjust, unfair and unworkable legislation that will decimate riparian agricultural businesses and put Australia's biosecurity at risk"
After growing up on a farm, Mr Quilty said in his statement it was one of the most difficult decisions he had made in his parliamentary career, but his party supported greater use of public land.
"It was a poorly thought out idea, but one that Labor took to the election in 2018, so there is a case to be made that they have a mandate," he said.
"Labor has tried to ram this legislation through without properly consulting with the thousands of farming families who will be directly impacted.
"They want to buy off city voters.
"As a direct result of locking up national parks to buy green votes, they needed to find somewhere else for people to camp.
"One idea I would like to dispel is that this legislation is all my fault. Not only was it not my idea, but I am not the only one who reluctantly supported it in the end.
"This was Labor legislation, but in the entire Legislative Council, only two members voted against it."
Barnawartha North farmer Terry Doolan said there were issues already with campers in designated camping spots.
"Whenever you try and get onto someone from DELWP when something is happening you often can't, but if you do, they push you onto police," he said.
"Eighty per cent of the people who go into these reserves are good respectable people, but the ones who will want to get into the middle of nowhere on private property are the ones causing the trouble on the existing reserves."
Benambra MP Bill Tilley said the camper regulations were treating licenced river frontages "like a public toilet" and cattle producers, including those with EU accreditation, faced the biggest risk.
"We are going to have primary producers in this district who are going to potentially lose their EU accreditation," he said.
"That is devastating for those producers."
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