Victorian farmers say a Federal Government plan to seize greater control of national parks is a thinly veiled attempt to bar cattle grazing in the high country.
Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke wrote to state environment ministers last week explaining that he wanted greater control over what activities could take place in Australia’s 500 national parks.
It follows moves by the Victorian Government to allow the reintroduction of cattle grazing to the Alpine National Park earlier this year, which overturned a ban that was put in place by the previous Labor Government in 2005.
Prior to winning the December 2010 election the Baillieu Labor Government made an election commitment to trial strategic cattle grazing as a tool to mitigate bushfire risk in Victoria's high country.
It honoured the commitment in January, but the cattle were removed in March when Mr Burke intervened. The Victorian Government has since indicated its intentions to reintroduce the trials again this summer.
National parks are controlled by state Governments, but Mr Burke is seeking greater Federal powers to prevent mining, grazing and logging in the park estate in future.
In a press release this week VFF Livestock Group President Chris Nixon said the Minister’s plan was a thinly veiled attempt to place further barriers on Victorian mountain cattlemen’s access to the high country.
“The Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke has a plan to extend national environmental law to areas already designated as national parks,” Mr Nixon said.
“The states should reject this plan. It will deliver no benefits to the environment or users of the parks.
“It is obvious that the Minister is seeking to extend greater barriers to restrict the grazing of cattle in the Victorian high country. However, this move is likely to also impact on other uses of national parks including bee keepers.
“Farmers can see no benefits from these proposed changes, and fear they will deliver little other than a cost to the tax payer.
“The Federal Government has a responsibility to ensure that environmental policies are based on science, not trampling on the rights of states."
HAVE YOUR SAY