Member for Western Victoria Region, Bev McArthur recently spoke on Motion 110 on Public Land Management which concerned the Government’s move to ‘lock out’ Victorian rock climbers from accessing many public areas.  Specifically, this refers to recent accessibility changes in the Grampians National Park, which has prevented enjoyment of outdoor recreation, caused severe distress to affected businesses and disrupted long-running events.

Mrs McArthur said:  “It is important to both respect and protect areas of cultural significance in the Grampians, and in particular the unique rock art sites […]. However, the rock climbing community are rightly frustrated at the way they have been treated by Parks Victoria.”

Mrs McArthur said: “This issue is a self-made problem of the government—no-one else. The government and the Minister are totally responsible […] this is primarily about public land management, and this government is clearly not known for its ability to properly manage public spaces.”  These bans were enacted without consultation with the rock climbing community and no official reports have been released confirming the claims made against the rock climbing community.

She said: “It is unacceptable that the Andrews government continues to refuse to consult with the rock climbing community or the many small businesses who rely on rock climbing in the Grampians for their financial sustainability.”

Between March 2017 and March 2018 visitors spent $317 million in the region.  “We do not want to put all of this at risk, but already we have seen reports that these bans are doing the damage to the economy,” Mrs McArthur said. 

“Some businesses have already seen a 30 per cent decrease in income.  A yearly climbing festival has been cancelled this year that had previously brought significant income to the region. Accommodation and restaurants are being affected as thousands of climbers go elsewhere.” 

“We want growth in sustainable businesses in rural Victoria. Tourism is one such beneficial industry,” she said.

“The government must work with everyone involved: Parks Victoria, the local traditional owners and park users, including the rock climbing community. A solution must be found which both preserves these important sites of cultural significance and protects the environment, while retaining access to some of the best rock climbing in the world’

21 June 2019