ic Govt continues alpine grazing fight

Vic Govt continues alpine grazing fight

25 October 2011

published by www.weeklytimesnow.com.au

Australia — THE Victorian Government is soldiering on with its effort to reinstate alpine grazing.

Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke last week made changes to regulations that effectively abolish grazing in the heritage-listed park.

The changes require “the grazing of domestic stock in the Australian Alps national parks and reserves” to be approved by the Federal Department of Environment.

This makes it almost impossible for the Victorian Government to keep its 2010 election promise to reinstate alpine grazing.

A Victorian Government spokeswoman said it was assessing “the detail in the regulations” before making its next move.

The Victorian Government secretly put cattle into the heritage-listed Alpine National Park last January, claiming the move was part of a fire reduction trial.

But this week it criticised Mr Burke over a lack of consultation over alpine grazing.

“Mr Burke didn’t even have the courtesy to let the Victorian Government know he was about to trample on states’ rights in under 24 hours,” the spokeswoman said.

Mountain Cattlemen’s Association of Victoria president Mark Coleman told The Weekly Times “the responsibility for future devastating bushfires lies squarely at his (Mr Burke’s) feet”.

Mr Burke labelled the claim “hysterical”.

He said the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission report did not make a single recommendation about cattle grazing as a fuel reduction tool.

“I support fire management and I support well-managed fuel reduction burning,” Mr Burke said.

“A handful of farmers want to feed their cattle for free and they will adopt any extreme argument to justify their claim.”

Mr Coleman said Mr Burke’s actions in changing regulations had set a “very dangerous precedent”.

A report by consultants URS, hired by the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment, found grazing had damaged an alpine wetland.

It said farmers had not supplied the right numbers of cattle to the sites that they had been contracted to, claims denied by Mr Coleman.

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