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Australian Anglers Association, (WA Division) Inc.



Comments on Caravan Parks and Camping Grounds Act 1995 Discussion Paper



In October 2005, Public submissions were invited on the "Review of the Caravan Parks and Camping Grounds Act 1995 - Discussion Paper". The paper includes a number of key issues relating to the operation of the Act and Regulations that have been raised by the community and local governments since the legislation came into operation. The paper is at
http://www.dlgrd.wa.gov.au/legislation/_pubBin/CaravanParksCampingGroundsActPaper.pdf

The Association has made the following submission:-

Caravan Parks & Camping Grounds Act 1995 Review Co-ordinator
Department of Local Government and Regional Development
GPO Box R1250
Perth WA 6844

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the operation and effectiveness of the Caravan Parks and Camping Grounds Act 1995.

The Australian Anglers Association, Western Australian Division is an organisation that promotes club angling as a sport and recreation for everyone. The Association represents 27 angling clubs and their members in the Perth metro and country areas from Northampton to Esperance. The Association provides a Board member to Recfishwest.

The Association places great importance on the future of responsible recreational fishing, and the responsible access to the resources fishing depends on in Western Australia.

We have a particular interest in the Caravan Parks and Camping Grounds Act because many of our members need some form of camping in order to enjoy their favourite fishing spots. The great majority of club members are mature, responsible people who have sincere concern for the environment and follow club's stringent codes of ethics.

We have some concerns with regulations 10 and 11, in relation to where people may camp. These are outlined below.

Application of the Act.

It seems that some Shires interpret any shelter as a "camp", even a tarpaulin attached to a vehicle on a beach for sun protection. Sometimes even while people are fishing, the rangers demand that people remove any shelter and threaten people with infringement notices unless they remove any shelter on the beach. Considering the current emphasis and publicity about the critical need for sun protection, such actions are really counter to good sense.

Sometimes the distinction between camping and fishing gets a little blurred. It seems it is OK to be actually fishing all night having chairs, tables, meals, drinks, lights and whatever, but if you dare to have a short sleep under exactly the same conditions you are immediately in breach of the Act.

Regulations 10 and 11.

Regulations 10 and 11 in their current form restrict anyone from legally camping anywhere without permission from the land holders (private or Crown Land).

Given the reluctance of government authorities to grant permission to camp on Crown Land, this regulation essentially restricts travellers to camping in gazetted caravan parks or designated camping grounds. If anyone wishes to camp on any land (including beaches) that are not managed reserves, that is an illegal act.

Given the remoteness of Western Australia and the lack of designated camping areas, this regulation has little merit and unfairly discriminates against people wishing to participate in wilderness forms of camping in the remote regions of this state. Caravan parks and managed camping reserves are not freely available in many regions of the state, the Association therefore believes that the camping on unallocated Crown Lend, in particular beaches, should not be managed by such heavy restrictions.

Camping on Beaches.

The issue of people fishing at night on beaches and not being allowed to set up a small camp so they can rest prior to fishing the following morning is of great concern to the Association.

Suggestions that people should use existing caravan parks or camping areas when fishing in some areas are impractical in some cases. The reality is that people who have driven down a track and along a beach and fished until well after dark, and who want to fish again in the morning, do not want to pack every thing up, drive along a beach and down tracks in the dark, reinflate their tyres, and find the caravan park late at night.

They do not want to have to get up very early the next morning, pack up all their camping gear again, drive down tracks and along the beach in the early morning dark to get back to the same spot they were in just a few hours earlier in time to start fishing at first light which is just after 4 am in summer when a lot of beach fishing is done.

Any suggestions that caravan parks are losing that business because people will be allowed to camp on the beach needs to recognise the reality that those overnight fishermen are simply not customers for caravan parks because of the timing of their fishing activities.

There is also the issue of driving while tired. There is a very important publicity campaign to advise people of the very real dangers of driving while tired, yet the effects of the caravan and camping act restrictions are that people are expected to or may be forced to drive while they are tired.

The Association therefore believes that greater consideration needs to be made for the public who enjoy responsible beach fishing and wish to camp overnight at their fishing spot to enjoy this pastime.

The Association believes that the granting of permission to camp on unallocated Crown Land should not be left with the Department of Planning and Infrastructure (DPI), We suggest that the authority to grant permission be delegated to appropriate government officers with a set of guidelines which could then be actively publicised. This would make the opportunity to camp more freely available to the general public without having to go through an application process with the DPI. People could simply contact their local government or shire for an application to camp on a beach for a prescribed period provided they followed certain guidelines.

The Association continues to strongly support the current legislation that allows for 24 hour camping on a road reserve in an emergency situation and believes that this regulation should continue.

The Association supports the recommendation that the period of time that a person may camp on land (with the owner's permission) before being required to contact the local government for permission be extended to seven nights instead of the current number of three nights. This prescribed period of time should be made consistent with the whole of State to reduce potential for confusion amongst the community.

Areas where camping may not be allowed.

We do not have any problems with some reasonable restrictions on being able to camp in the dunes where the only vehicle access is from the beach and that vehicle access would lead to damage to the dunes. However, this is really an access issue not a camping issue, and in many places existing extensive tracks run behind the dunes and responsible travel and short term camping in those areas may not cause any damage.

Peripheral issues with camping.

Although not covered by the Act in question, two valid concerns are rubbish and pollution, but it is not valid to use these to justify bans on camping.

There are already adequate laws covering people leaving rubbish. However those laws are rarely enforced, despite lots of complaints, and despite it being a really serious social problem. A campaign of enforcing existing laws and fining people who leave rubbish behind might quickly cut the problem dramatically.

Any ban on camping using rubbish as a reason is just using an excuse and is the common cop out that it is believed easier to ban something than it is to properly manage the real problem.

All such a ban does is turn normal average responsible people into lawbreakers, while the people who are really the problem take absolutely no notice and continue doing whatever they want to regardless of the law.

Sealed portable toilets are readily available and could be made a condition of camping in some areas to remove any objections about that type of pollution.

Conclusion.

The camping restrictions imposed by the current provisions of the Caravan and Camping have a severe impact on overnight recreational fishing in Western Australia. Changes are needed to ensure that responsible camping is allowed in suitable places.

The alternative is that some people will find it all too much trouble and opt out. That's such a loss and particularly for the children who will miss out on all these experiences.

We hope our recommendations and comments are considered during the review of the Act. Please contact me if I can provide any further information or clarification.

Yours sincerely

Terry Fuller,
Secretary,
Australian Anglers Association (WA Division) Inc.

21 November 2005




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This page last updated 21 November 2005.