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December 2017

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No overnight parking sign

Sign greeting RVers at Queenstown

'Neutrality principles flawed and in need of change'

Tassie Regulator and council
clash over camping ruling

Have your say

TASMANIA'S West Coast Council says it was "forced" to ban overnight camping at Queenstown Recreation Ground.

Council-erected 'No Overnight Parking' signs now greet travellers arriving in caravans, motorhomes and other RVs.

In a lengthy statement defending itself, the council revealed its action was in responce to the Apple Isle's Economic Regulator ruling that it was providing free camping services in contravention of the island's competitive neutrality principles.

"Council disagreed strongly with the ludicrous suggestion that just because we were emptying rubbish bins and maintaining toilet facilities at sites we were therefore providing free camping," West Coast general manager Dirk Dowling said.

"Nonetheless, councils do not have the luxury of ignoring such findings and are required to respond."

The involvement of the Economic Regulator was as a result of a formal complaint by the previous owner of the Queenstown Caravan Park and was not limited to the Queenstown Recreation Ground.

The complaint also highlighted Stitt Park in Rosebery as another free camping service being provided by the council.

"Council argued strongly against this suggestion by pointing out it did not own Stitt Park and was merely working to maintain a facility in partnership with the owner (MMG) and the Lions Club," the statement said.

"This argument did nothing to prevent the Economic Regulator from making the adverse finding."

The council said it had held "detailed and complex" discussions with the owners of Stitt Park resulting in the park's toilets being closed.

"The council's involvement is now limited to rubbish collection (a service paid for by MMG)," the statement explained.

"There is no guarantee that this arrangement will not still be in contravention of the illogical approach taken by the Economic Regulator.

"That is, according to the Regulator's interpretation, where an RV parks on a verge somewhere in the West Coast that is near a bin emptied by council with public toilets nearby, then council is still illegally providing free camping services.

"Again, council sees this as a ludicrous outcome, but not surprising, given the limited range of actual on-ground circumstances and real world outcomes the Economic Regulator fails to factor in.

"It is council's view that the application of the competitive neutrality principles is currently flawed and in serious need of review and change."

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