On Tuesday 28th November Jeff Bourman, Member of the Victorian Legislative Council for Eastern Victoria Region, tabled a petition of 901 signatures to Parliament of Victoria Legislative Council. The petition seeks to overturn a decision by Bass Coast Shire Council to restrict horse access on the beach to permit only holders.
The petition was organised by Corinella local Kitty McDowall who runs the Corinella Foreshore horse access via Coronet Bay page on FB and has campaigned hard for rider rights over the last year.
McDowall said via her FB page “We received 744 electronic signatures and at the last minute I put out a hard copy petition replicating the Epetition, as per request from locals that don’t have access to the internet and within a week we received 157 signatures … these were all Victorian signatures.”
In early November the Bass Coast Shire Council announced it would trial a new permit system for horse riders wanting to access the beach. The trial would last two years.
The permits have been made free for pony clubs and riders residing in the shire while local professional trainers registered with Racing Victoria will be required to pay $500.
Riders and trainers from outside the shire, who wish to use the beach, will be charged annual fees of $75 for recreational riders, $1000 for pony clubs and RV registered trainers must pay $2500.
The scale of fees is seen as a move to protect the interests of local Bass Coast communities.
Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party MP Jeff Bourman presented the petition to the Legislative Council calling for the Bass Coast Shire to retract its planned permit scheme limiting access for horse riders to the Coronet Bay beach.
“The beach at Coronet Bay has historically been a well-loved equestrian beach for riders within the Bass Coast Shire and surrounds. The Bass Coast Shire has no justification as to why, as of 1 December this year horse riders will have restrictions placed on their access to the beach” says Mr Bourman, the Member for Eastern Victoria. “The constant erosion of our rights as citizens to enjoy public space for recreational pursuits has to stop.”
The beach at Coronet Bay accessed by horses is a quiet beach with limited usage as a swimming or recreational beach for other purposes, and with limited wave action and a shallow tidal area, it is a perfect space for horse riders to exercise themselves and horses. As a particularly suitable destination for children with ponies, it is a sad state of affairs when highly enjoyable and life changing recreational experiences for the young are no longer allowed, especially in such suitable locations.
“We need to be doing all we can to encourage equal access to outdoor recreation for all members of our community” said Mr Bourman. “As the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party, we will fight for the right to retain access to public land to partake in recreational activities.”
On November 10 a similar council decision at Joondalup, WA, was overturned when the State Legislative Council intervened. See Perth horse riders praise decision to overturn beach riding ban
Photo by Sarah Schroder