TILLEY (Benambra) (09:49): Surely, could this be right? Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning staff are being taken off fuel reduction burns and emergency firefighting to assist with licensed river frontages for fishing and camping. My mail says up to 32 staff are going to be taken from their normal duties as part of an internal recruitment drive. Last year we had farmers—normally laid back and relaxed farmers—protesting on the steps of this Parliament over the massive overreach in plans to allow this to happen. Common sense won out, and the regulations were watered down. DELWP would still do a review of 27 sites as a trial. Later that number increased to 100. Priority fishing rivers were identified—Goulburn, Ovens, Campaspe, Loddon and Broken.
As published in the Weekly Times this morning, imagine the surprise of farmers on the Mitta Mitta and Murray rivers last month when they started receiving emails and letters saying their properties were now under assessment. These same letters, almost oblivious to geography, still referenced the priority rivers. They were promised prior notice, but when these farmers—normally laid back and relaxed—called to find out more, they found that the assessments had already been done. One received a call just last week. She was at a country sports tournament and was told staff would be at her farm tomorrow. As I have said before in this place, do not look at what Labor say, look at what they do. This is jackboot diplomacy that is going to spread across the state like the fires these officers should be fighting.