A rally at State Parliament today sent a strong message to the Andrews Labor Government that access to the Australian bush is a way of life that needs to be preserved in Victoria.
Shadow Assistant Minister for Public Land and The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Melina Bath, tabled a petition with 4431 signatures in State Parliament on behalf of the Bush User Groups United (BUGU) calling for an Inquiry into Public Land Management in Victoria to address the issue.
“This important petition signed by thousands of Victorians defends bush users rights and calls on the Andrews Labor Government to abandon its lock and leave approach to our state forests,” said Ms Bath.
“Bush users are severely frustrated that Labor is not getting the balance right and is ignoring their views and pandering to inner city greens.
“They do not want to be left experiencing public land from behind a locked gate or confined to a boardwalk.
“State forests encourage participation and connection with our natural environment by enabling everyone to tailor their stay and truly immerse themselves in the Victorian bush.”
The concerns follow the release of a public land investigative report produced by Victorian Environmental Assessment Council (VEAC) at the request of the Andrews Labor Government.
But bush users believe the VEAC report has raised more questions than it answers.
Ms Bath said VEAC’s recommendations will significantly limit the activities of long-term bush users such as fire wood gatherers, recreational miners and prospectors, horse riders, four wheel driving enthusiasts, hunters and bush walkers, if implemented.
“Bush users want to preserve their ability to go bush and partake in activities that they have enjoyed for many generations,” said Ms Bath.
“The bush is a way of life in Gippsland and responsible bush users make sure they leave our state forests in a better state than they found it.
“Conservation and bush access do not have to operate exclusively.”
Following the tabling of the petition, a Bush User Groups United rally converged onto State Parliament to demonstrate to the Andrews Labor Government they want public land kept public.
Ms Bath said it was important the community was granted the freedom to go bush and explore, enjoy and experience our state forests as they have for generations.
“The Andrews Labor Government must stop ignoring ordinary bush users.” Ms Bath said.