Following on from our previous article, a broader article appeared in The Australian on the weekend (subscribers only). The article by John Ferguson covers a lot more than climbing – as now hiking and swimming are in the firing line – and that’s plenty for regular folk to get upset about… and didn’t they just (see twitter, R).
The article was reproduced by News.com.au and the Daily Mail, unfortunately typical R leaning publications…. shown alongside more news on how Climate Change is nothing to be worried about (but we won’t get into that here!)
3AW with Neil Mitchell also did a radio piece about it, which is worth listening to:
There now seems to be a general outrage that the over-reach by PV and DEWLP is getting out of hand for outdoor activities that don’t conform to a strict set of rules, like swimming, paragliding and of course climbing.
In reply from the Minister’s office…
“A spokeswoman for Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the reforms would be pursued only to preserve parks or heritage”But remember – these protections already exist!!
We’re wondering exactly what problem these new regulations are attempting to solve.
There are ALREADY regs in the document: 302(1) (about care and protection of a park), 404(1) and (2) (about protecting Cultural Heritage) and 903 (about setting aside areas where rec activities are restricted or prohibited).
But for some reason, Climbing / Paragliding / Hang Gliding are lumped together in regulation “906”, which appears to apply to ‘adventure or high risk activities’. See P34 of the Regional Parks Regs . Why are these activities singled out, if “The Reforms would be pursued only to preserve parks or heritage”? There’s something else going on.
With an election coming, it’s a bit bizarre that the Andrew’s government thinks that going after people who enjoy all manner of outdoor activities are worth going after. Even my lefty friends were reposting this article with a “WTF”.
Note: While these regs do not directly affect our favorite cliffs in Western Vic, it’s the same mechanism. Fear of any harm (or litigation) is met with the full force of closures and regulations.
Grampians climbing closures have maxed out at 79%, halted only by management limitations. Perhaps Arapiles climbing closures are just beginning at 12%.
ACTION – Contact your Local MP
We suggest you write a letter (we’ve got letter writing page), which can help you find the right person to write to).
Let your local MP know how these new restrictions are important you, and whether it’ll effect your vote… in your own words. Some talking points:
- How you regularly participate in outdoor activities…. Look after the environment etc.
- Regulations are overstepping and an unnecessary incursion on individual freedoms.
- Why is Climbing / Paragliding singled out, when existing laws / regulations already cover any damage caused to Flora/Fauna and Heritage / Cultural Heritage.
- Climbing: Relying on Land Managers to ‘set aside’ permitted areas for climbing and recreation could put political and legal risk on land managers, where this is not currently the case.
Original Article: We’ve posted the full txt below (source).
FINES FOR ADVENTURERS UNDER NATURE ‘NANNY-STATE’ RULES
By John Ferguson
Walkers and riders face heavy new fines for not using government-sanctioned trails in Victoria, while swimmers could be barred from using some waterways without a necessary permit.
The planned new Andrews government regulations, affecting more than 50 city and regional parks, have been criticised as “nanny state” measures.
They also allow for the wider imposition of fines for rock climbers and other adventurersadven who fail to adhere to strict controls over the way they pursue their sport.
The draft regulations include fines for anyone who fills a chainsaw with oil and petrol on a soft surface such as grass and dirt and a ban on “intrusive” scientific studies and visitor surveys in parks.
The controversial moves are outlined in the government’s proposed Metropolitan and Regional Parks Regulations, which also lay the framework for the wider use of permits, user-pays systems and restrictions to access, which are already among the toughest in the world in parks in parts of the state.
When enacted, they will affect some of Victoria’s best-known parks, stretching from near the NSW border in the east, across Melbourne and politically sensitive regional centres including Ballarat, Bendigo and Shepparton.
The regulations state that land managers may set aside tracks for walking or riding and that “a person must not, in a park, leave a track set aside for walking or riding…’’
The penalty for walking off the track is $924, $1840 for filling a chainsaw in the wrong place, $1472 for conducting “any intrusive research” such as a scientific study and $1840 for breaching rules where public land is set aside to ban sport or recreational activity.
The reforms follow an unprecedented campaign by the government in its parks to gut rock climbing in Australia’s two key destinations – the Grampians and Mt Arapiles in western Victoria – where participation has dived in the past three years, including after the pandemic lockdowns ended.
Under the government’s timeline, the regulations, after being reviewed during the consultation process, are due to come into force by the end of this month or next month, in the lead-up to the November 26 election.
Australian Climbing Association Victorian president Mike Tomkins said the decision to include Macedon Regional Park, just outside Melbourne, in the regulatory list could affect some of the best rock climbing close to the city.
The proposed regulations read that a person must not rock climb, abseil, hang glide or paraglide in any park unless with the use of a special permit or if an area is set aside by the government for the pursuit. “Everything is leading to the point of more and more control,” Mr Tomkins said.
A spokeswoman for Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the reforms would be pursued only to preserve parks or heritage.
“The regulations do not restrict any activities that are currently allowed and will only be used to restrict an activity if it is necessary to protect the environment, cultural heritage and safety,” she said.
“(The department) is considering the submissions and will develop recommendations for the minister in coming weeks.”
Opposition environment spokesman James Newbury said the government was failing to find the balance between protecting parks and intruding on liberties.
“Instead, Labor takes a nanny-state approach and has repeatedly taken extreme measures which lock land away from the community,” he said.
“Conservation relies on the community being involved and invested in the future of our unique lands.”
The new regulations, if enacted in full, have been framed for a wide number of parks in Victoria that aren’t currently covered by such laws. It includes for the first time special set aside provisions in the parks that enable certain activities to be banned or restricted.
The clampdown comes after the government has overhauled rock climbing in Victoria under the guise of protecting cultural heritage, which includes separate heavy penalties for wrongdoing under the relevant legislations.