THE thorny issue of competitive neutrality and its effects on grey
nomads and other traveller has again reared its ugly head
on the Apple Isle.
Tasmania's Meander Valley Council in the central north of the state
has closed the Westbury Recreation Ground to overnight camping,
blaming noisy parties and a breach of planning regulations and national
competition policy principles.
The council will also ban camping and overnight stops at the Bracknell
River Reserve from March 13, claiming it "must abide by planning
regulations and national competition policy which govern how the reserve
may be used". The council said it needed to stop camping and overnight
stays until issues were resolved.
Meanwhile, the Local Government Association of Tasmania
has passed a motion seeking a state government review of the "current
application of national competition principles as they relate to free
camping in regional towns".
"We need to stop camping and overnight stays until we resolve these
matters," the council said in a statement.
"Visitors to Meander Valley are valued and we encourage you to check out
some of our wonderful caravan parks so you can continue to enjoy the
unique experience we offer."
The decision has caused an uproar from local businesses who claim they
will suffer badly from the decision.
One has even thrown open its property for caravanners and other campers to
stay for free, providing room for 30 travellers.
Local resident Rebecca Poulton aired her anger
on social media, arguing that if the council was really concerned about
abiding by planning regulations and national competition policies then the
ban on free camping should be across the whole region and not just
"This should include the Deloraine site near the racecourse and any
others," she said.
"An announcement like this one referring to free camping in Westbury only
is very unfair, particularly when so many local
businesses are benefiting from extra tourists staying in the area."
She described it as a "poor decision" by councillors.
Tasmania's National Competition Policy rules
that any government-owned enterprise deemed as being involved in
significant business activities must compete on the same terms as private