Weird attacks on National Parks

Public responses to the VEAC recommendations for the Central West Investigation Area are due next week [December 10]. A simple letter is enough, indicating your interest in the area in question, and your reasons for your view.

The recommendations do not concern the Mount Alexander region, but they include two important proposals for our immediate northern and southern neighbours: the proposal for a new national park in the Wombat Forest, and a Nature Reserve in the Wellsford Forest. We believe both should be supported.

VEAC’s draft report can be found here. A method of making submissions is here.

A concerted campaign is now under way to attack the proposals. It contains a number of strange claims. These include the following:

The recommendations would put an end to camping, horse riding, motor bike riding…In fact these activities are explicitly allowed in most of the proposed parks, under conditions broadly accepted by the community. Bizarrely, one objection is to the requirement that vehicles be driven on formed roads. The laws on this are the same in state forests as they are in parks.

Commercial photography in parks costs $80 an hour. Actually the fees are the same for parks and state forests. The $80 fee only applies if a ranger is required to be present.

A strange video circulating on the web shows a man walking with his granddaughter, and informing her that ‘green groups’ have stopped us from picking flowers in national parks. The old gentleman doesn’t seem aware that wildflowers have been protected since the ‘Wildflowers and native plants protection Act’ of 1930, an act reasserted by the Bolte Liberal government in 1958. That government was definitely not a ‘green group.’

The gist of these objections to parks is that any restriction on the activity in question is a violation of our liberty. There’s a big problem here, never satisfactorily resolved in our culture: how much limitation should we be prepared to accept on our favoured activity, for the benefit of the environment and the wider community?

The main effect of the VEAC proposals would be to reduce logging, hunting and prospecting. We believe these are good proposals: you can read a defence of them here.

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