Renewing Victoria’s public land legislation

The Victorian Farmers Federation is the peak body representing farmers in Victoria. Our members are the Crown’s largest neighbour, partners in management, eyes on the ground and a source of knowledge that can help improve the management of Crown land in Victoria. 

The major land use in Victoria is farming / green wedge with this category representing nearly 63% of zoned land. Crown land, in state forests, national parks and other reserves is the second main land use category In Victoria at nearly 35%. As Crown land and farming land is 98% of the state, it needs to be recognised that farmers and the Crown are neighbours and joint managers of biosecurity, weeds and safety in the landscape. In addition farmers often play a role in direct management of Crown land under lease and licenses. 

The Catchment and Land Protection Act deliberately binds all owners of land, including the Crown. The Emergency Management Act establishes priorities across tenures. All owners play a crucial role in Biosecurity. However, in regards to many land management and safety obligations DELWP focus on the Land Act and Forest Act roles and duties. The modernisation process has failed to consider the opportunity to embrace the key duties and obligations of other statutes on the Crown and embed it into the principles guiding the management of Crown land in the state. 

2020 has highlighted the importance of biosecurity response and the need to plan for a range of scenarios which may spread disease. Keeping a 19th century view of biosecurity risk in the 21st century risks Victoria, its economy and biodiversity being subject to a disease outbreak such as foot and mouth. 

The VFF position in regards to the recent Crown Lands Bill – facilitating camping – is an insight into the many issues and challenges that must be embraced in modernising not only the legislation but the system which manages Victoria’s Crown land estate.