Victorian Agriculture Minister Mary-Anne Thomas has distanced herself from the final execution of contentious regulations opening up Crown land river frontages to campers even though farmers have been among the most vocal critics of the changes.
Ms Thomas, who grew up in Wodonga and took on the agriculture portfolio late last year, was back in her hometown yesterday when questioned on the government's election promise to open up more areas to campers.
An extension of the publication consultation period closed last Monday with the changes slated to come into effect on September 1.
"The Victorian government was very clear," Ms Thomas said.
"We went to the election in 2018 with a promise we would make Crown river frontages more accessible to campers to ensure more people got to experience the great outdoors.
"The opportunity now is to examine the findings of that consultation and see what issues that raises and how we can incorporate that feedback into the final regulations.
"I am listening to what farmers on the ground are telling me.
"Concerns have been raised and government has provided an avenue for those concerns to be raised."
It was reported this week that Ms Thomas was among three government ministers to raise concerns with fishing minister, Melissa Horne.
"I am not the responsible minister for these regulations or indeed the delivery of the commitment, " Ms Thomas said.
Member for Benambra Bill Tilley said he hoped Ms Thomas was listening to concerns.
"As someone who likes to trot out her credentials as having been raised in the North-East, I'd imagine the minister would be getting plenty of advice on the stupidity of these riverside squatting laws," he said.
"But it is one thing to listen and quite another to act.
"If Labor was serious, they would put most of this in the bin, take a good hard look at how campers could be registered, whether it's safe to be mixing people with animals and hunting, and perhaps most simply just say you must get approval from the landholder to camp.
"This affects everyone whether you camp or not.
"It will impact the very food you and I eat, there are strict rules around biosecurity and yet this ignores all of that."
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