Safety fears over river camps

Liability questions over riverbank camping


Seymour quarry owners expressed safety fears over riverbank camping.

SAFETY FEARS: The Goulburn River, at Seymour.

SAFETY FEARS: The Goulburn River, at Seymour.

The owner of a Seymour farm and quarry says he's concerned he'll face industrial manslaughter charges, if someone is kiled when camping on crown land leases on the Goulburn River, which runs through his property.

Camilo and Kellie Giannarelli run Goulburn GVR Quarry & Earthworks, about five kilometres from Seymour.

The Victorian Upper House is currently looking at amendments to the Land Act, to open up the state's crown land riverbanks to camping.

Camilo Giannarelli said camping would make keeping the site safe complicated as there was the added concern over who was liable if someone was injured or killed.

"The Victorian manslaughter laws also come into it as well," Mr Ginnarelli said.

"In Victoria, our scope is a lot wider than other states, and covers members of the public, as well," Mr Giannarelli said.

Kellie Gianareilli said the quarry on the property was regulated by Earth Resources and it had to be a secure site," Ms Gianarelli said.

"If you allowed campers on the edge of our property, and they got the wanders, it becomes an unsecured site.

"It's very hard to monitor that if you have free access to the river frontage."

Read more:

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Ms Gianarelli said the most trouble they'd faced was from fishermen coming off the Hume Highway, walking through the property, and leaving gates open.

"They walk straight through the middle of our farm, which is a mine site," she said.

"We have everything clearly signed, but you can't always trust people to shut gates - we've also had fences cut, so people can gain access.

"The laws do say you can't light fires, people still do, the laws say you can't litter, people still do, there's common sense of opening and closing a gate, most people would do the right thing, some people don't then you have the stock problems.

She said people could still park on the Goulburn Valley Highway, and walk in through that area, rather than coming off the Hume Freeway, which was now closed.

'We don't think people shouldn't camp, or fish, or have fun, it's more that our concern is safety.

"We are not 'bah, humbug'; we don't want to stop people having fun, it's more that I think if the government had designated camping places, that were safe, that would be better.

"Maybe make more camping sites, that are patrolled, where they have bins and toilets and no reason to go wandering through anywhere else?"

She said she was also concerned at campers startling cattle.

"If we have got campers who have had too many drinks and go wandering into your paddock and startle the cattle, they will run them over," she said.

"If you have a mob of 30 or 40 or 60 cattle all running at you, it is very hard to get out of the way."

Meanwhile, the state opposition says it hasn't yet reached a position on the legislation, as it's still on consultations with key stakeholders.

The opposition Environment and Climate Change spokeswoman Bridget Vallence said it was fair to say there were concerns around biosecurity and campers creating a fire hazard.

"We don't have a firm position," Ms Vallence said.

"We are still currently engaging with stakeholders and consulting, as broadly as we can to best inform our position on this bill."

She said the oppostion wanted to ensure the appropriate safeguards were in place.

"Victorians need to have confidence that there are protections when it comes to campfires being set, as well as protections for livestock when people are camping."

She said the opposition supported the right of Victorians to get into the outdoors, and to be able to go fishing, camping and shooting.

"The government doesn't seem to have thought about how they are going to monitor this area, it's not just fire, it could also be litter and waste," she said.

"But you have to get the balance right, where there is waterfront and farming land - there have to be protections in place."

The Nationals East Gippsland MP Tim Bull said the opposition would move amendments to help find the right balance, that protected the rights of farmers and landholders, while boosting opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors.

"During the consultation process, the rural sector raised legitimate concerns that unmonitored access to properties would threaten biosecurity and increase the fire risk," Mr Bull said.

"So while we want to see these areas opened for more use, we believe it's important that's done in consultation with landholders."

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