Victorian Bureaucrats Running Amok

Victorian Bureaucrats Running Amok. By John Ferguson.

Walkers and riders face heavy new fines for not using ­government-sanctioned trails in Victoria, while swimmers could be barred from using some waterways without a necessary permit.

The planned new Andrews government regulations, affecting more than 50 city and regional parks, have been criticised as “nanny state” measures.

They also allow for the wider imposition of fines for rock climbers and other adventurists who fail to adhere to strict controls over the way they pursue their sport.

The draft regulations include fines for anyone who fills a chainsaw with oil and petrol on a soft surface such as grass and dirt and a ban on “intrusive” scientific studies and visitor surveys in parks.

The controversial moves are outlined in the government’s proposed Metropolitan and Regional Parks Regulations, which also lay the framework for the wider use of permits, user-pays systems and restrictions to access, which are already among the toughest in the world in parks in parts of the state.

When enacted, they will affect some of Victoria’s best-known parks, stretching from near the NSW border in the east, across Melbourne and politically sensitive regional centres including Ballarat, Bendigo and Shepparton.

The regulations state that land managers may set aside tracks for walking or riding and that “a person must not, in a park, leave a track set aside for walking or riding…’’

The penalty for walking off the track is $924, $1840 for filling a chainsaw in the wrong place, $1472 for conducting “any intrusive research” such as a scientific study and $1840 for breaching rules where public land is set aside to ban sport or recreational ­activity.

A couple of decades ago, Victoria was the home of most Australian manufacturing. But since then the sector has largely died, shipped off to China, and made noncompetitive by unions and a high Australian dollar (the resource curse, caused by high demand for Australian commodities). The last cars were made in Australia in 2017.

Victorian employment now revolves more around the state, and the public sector. There is now a more left wing, big-government-is-good, bureaucracy-is-the-answer vibe to Victoria. The left-wing Andrews Government, despite its many outrages and foul-ups, will be reelected again. The conservative political opposition doesn’t know whether to be team B of big government or just give up.

At the other end of the Australian scale, in Western Australia most people work for private industry — in mining and agriculture. Consequently, WA mostly votes for conservative or less radical Labor politicians.

hat-tip Stephen Neil