INDEPENDENT NEWS

More reviews won’t fix freedom camping logjam

Published: Wed 15 Aug 2018 01:44 PM
15 August 2018
More reviews won’t fix freedom camping logjam
One of the Government’s infamous 140 working groups has, incredibly come back with a recommendation to have five more reviews, National’s Tourism spokesperson Todd McClay says.
“Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis’s Responsible Camping Working Group has reported back not with a plan but with a recommendation the Government reviews the Freedom Camping Act, the compliance regime, the administration system, the camping-grounds regulations and the ‘responsible camping rules’.
“That’s right. Five more reviews leading us to the extraordinary situation where we have working groups calling for working groups.
“In a damning indictment on its lack of work in Opposition this Government came to power with so few ideas it’s launched 140 working groups and inquiries costing $170-odd million, to tell it what to do.
“Now it turns out not even those working groups have any answers and decisions are being kicked further down the road, with Mr Davis saying his ‘cross-Government plan of action’ is still off somewhere in the never-never. We’re talking two years before any major legislative change will bring relief to most popular tourist destinations, and to the communities in those areas.
“Worryingly, Mr Davis also says even those recommendations the Responsible Camping Working Group did make won’t all be ready in time for this summer’s peak influx of tourists.
“That will be hugely disappointing for a sector which generates $14.5 billion of export earnings.
“This is symptomatic of a Government that loves to set up reviews and working groups rather than actually get on and do the job. At a time when businesses are crying out for certainty this Government gives them less.
“What is Mr Davis actually doing? Tourism is a full-time profession and it deserves more than a part-time minister.
“In the meantime, the Government could pick up National MP Anne Tolley’s Freedom Camping Bill which would prohibit Freedom Camping more than 200 metres from public toilet facilities, provide more organisations with the right to restrict freedom camping, and provide for instant fines that have been issued to be collected by rental car companies. That will make an immediate difference.”

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