THE NSW government has poured cold water on reports that caravanners
and other travellers will be barred from showgrounds in the state.
According to media reports, the government-imposed ban follows protests
from private caravan park operators and pressure from a government
department which runs profit-making parks on Crown land.
One angry caravanner protested to Caravanning News: "It would be an
outrage to prevent us using showgrounds. Many travellers, including grey
nomads on a tight budget, can't afford to stay at caravan parks which can
charge up to $40 a night.
"We rely on rest areas and showgrounds because they have no bells and
whistles and are far cheaper than commercial caravan parks."
Land and Property Management Authority (LPMA) spokesperson Natalie Christie
denied a blanket ban on tourists was being imposed.
But she told Caravanning News: "Showgrounds must have approval to
operate as a caravan park or camping ground from their local government
According to a story in northern NSW's Tweed Daily News,
showgrounds across the state are set to suffer a loss of income because a
ban on tourist camping at Murwillumbah showground will be applied
It claimed this was a new policy of the former NSW Department of Lands,
now the Land and Property Management Authority.
The newspaper said a working group had taken advice from lobbyists
including the Caravan and Camping Industry Association (CCIA) and the
Campervan and Motorhome Club of Australia (CMCA), which argued that
showgrounds did not pay the same rents or meet the same standards as
private caravan parks.
Members of an on-line caravanning
forum questioned the wisdom of the CCIA and CMCA supporting the ban.
"I thought these organisations were supposed to be on our side," wrote
Mr Baillie: level playing
But CCIA chief executive Barry Baillie stressed to Caravanning News
that the working group's decision was aimed not at individual caravanners
and travellers but at councils.
"What the working group said was that if you are going to use a showground
for overnight camping then it needs to comply with the law. Some
showgrounds are operating outside the regulations," he said.
And he claimed the problem was "gaining momentum" because the CMCA's
friendly towns program encouraged local councils to provide camping areas
which were often showgrounds or other land which did not comply with the
"If they want to use showgrounds for regular overnight camping they need a
DA from the local council and permission from the land owner, which is in
most cases is the Department of Lands or the Land and Property Management
Authority," Mr Baillee explained.
"They also need to comply with the local government caravan park and
camping ground regulations and if they do, then they are issued with an
approval to operate from the local council."
Mr Baillie agreed the working party's action would not be well received by
many caravanners and travellers, but he stressed its decision was not
aimed at them but at councils.
He admitted the CCIA could be seen to have a vested interested in the
working group's decision.
"But what we would say is that it should be a level playing field," he
said. "The law is set up and regulates what you can and can't do in a
caravan park or an overnight camping area. All our members must comply
"What we are saying is that if there is another operation down the road
that's competing then they must comply too. It's not a matter of
competition, it's a matter of compliance."
The CMCA's projects and member benefits manager, Phil Berry, claimed the Tweed Daily News
story inferred his organisation advocated banning recreational vehicles
from overnighting at NSW showgrounds.
"Nothing could be further from the truth," he said in a statement sent to
Caravanning News. "CMCA advocates for the freedom of choice as to
where to stay when travelling around Australia."
He said the use of Crown land was a key element to opening up more areas
to RVs, providing low cost accommodation and curbing illegal camping.
"The results of the mentioned working party include the NSW Land and
Property Management Authority (LPMA) committing to 'sustainable tourist
destinations that cater for caravans, campervans, motorhomes, tents and
other moveable dwellings' and introducing a process that enables
sustainable tourist destinations to be legally opened on Crown land, such
as showgrounds, racecourses, etc.
"CMCA has worked with showground or other trusts and local councils across
Australia to open up areas to accommodate RV tourists.
"It is hoped LPMA's position will result in many more locations being
opened in NSW."
Mr Berry said the CMCA was committed to working closely with the LPMA,
showground or other trusts and local councils in NSW to open their land to
the rapidly growing RV tourism market, whilst complying with the LPMA
Tweed mayor Warren Polglase, a former owner of caravan parks at Chinderah
and former board member of the CCIA, is apparently against the state-wide
ban on showground overnighting.
He claimed the working group's "cavalier approach" was totally
inappropriate to regional New South Wales. "The government has its own
caravan parks on Crown land and I would say they have a severe conflict of
interest," he reportedly said.
He warned the ban would affect people travelling to shows with large horse
floats with caravan accommodation, and even people with pets.