There has been considerable discussion over the last two weeks ever since the Tasmanian Department of Treasury and Finance released their long awaited report National Competition Policy: Applying Competitive Neutrality Principles to public camping in Tasmania. Reaction to the report on some of the forums has been expressions of doom and gloom for the future of freedom camping in Tasmania.
However, many have missed the point so before anyone makes any rash decisions to cancel their sailing passage with the Spirit of Tasmania let’s have a look at the facts. Essentially little has changed in Tasmania since the Regulator some years ago mandated that competitive neutrality applied to council free camps.
The policy released last week simply codifies how it should be applied. Will there be any camp closures. The answer to that question is probably yes. There are a very small number of camps situated in close proximity to commercial caravan parks. Some of those few may be lost. However, the report provides some positive news. Should a council believe there is a net public benefit in not applying full cost attribution principles an application may be made for their continued operation. A net public benefit is demonstrated if the so called harm caused to a commercial operator through what they may view as unfair competition are outweighed by the benefits to the community as a whole arising from allowing the freedom camp to operate. Factors to be considered in any application include the economic goals of the community and consumer interests (as well as the interests of RVers). The costs of implementing and operating a pricing system will also be taken into consideration. As the Treasurer (Peter Gutwein) indicated in his press release dated 13th February, 2019 “..in most circumstances there is likely to be no change at all”. As always the real test of the impact will be time. In other words, will RVers still have access to freedom camp sites in the years to come? In our view the answer is yes and in fact the number will probably grow because of the certainty the release of this report now provides.
So, book your passage and remember the ACC Tassie Travellers branch members look forward to meeting some of you as you enjoy the sights of their wonderful State.