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Competitive neutrality litmus test for caravan parks faced with ratepayer funded cut-price camping 

August 27, 2012
 Competitive neutrality litmus test for caravan parks faced with ratepayer funded cut-price camping

A workshop presented by Tim Kelly of Rigby Cooke Lawyers at the Victorian Caravan Parks Association (VicParks) annual conference offers a competitive neutrality litmus test for caravan parks faced with competing with council cut-price campsites. Any such campsite should be tested against a direct comparison with the standing costs and regulations which must be met by caravan parks the workshop was told.

Competitive neutrality is a principle that promotes the equal treatment by governments of competing organisations to achieve a level playing field. Across Australia local councils often provide or are associated with campsites which are close to and often undercut local rate paying caravan parks.

Caravan park operators who attended the workshop at the Victorian conference in country town Creswick were told that they should:

  • Ask to speak to the councils Competitive Neutrality officer.
  • Contact their local councillor.
  • Join with other park owners and present a united front.
  • Photograph sites, rubbish and overcrowding problems.
  • Advise their relevant caravan parks association.

On June 8 at the national Caravan, Recreational Vehicle and Accommodation Industry (CRVA) Research Committee in Brisbane, Caravanning Queensland requested national support from CRVA to lobby Townsville City Council regarding a request from a local Rotary Club to manage a local roadside overnight rest area.

VicParks said in June that the roadside overnight rest area is on the beach front at Townsville, has up to 100 motor homes and caravans on site each night and there are concerns about sanitation, health, occupancy and environmental issues.

The local Rotary Club proposed taking over the management of the area and charging a flat fee of $10 per night. Caravanning Qld and the CRVA saw this as having the potential to become a national issue in that the Rotary Clubs around Australia might seek to adopt a similar model throughout Australia.

This month (August) the caravanning and holiday parks industry said the Townsville Council-Rotary proposal was planned to take place in five council funded campgrounds in direct competition with local commercial caravan parks.

Delegates from CRVA, Caravanning Queensland, CCIA NSW and VicParks with support from CTIA Vic and CTIA Qld, addressed Townsville Council. They asked for assurances of consultation with industry before any decision.

CRVA and state associationsare working to create a national policy and guidelines on ratepayer funded campgounds.

A delegation of CRVA, Caravanning Qld, CCIA NSW VicParks and local caravan park operators have also addressed the Queensland State Government Community Cabinet in Townsville on the matter and wider ratepayer funded campground concerns.

VicParks President Steve Bartlett and Vice President James Kelly (r).
VicParks President Steve Bartlett and Vice President James Kelly (r).
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