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Cattle grazing ban
Cattle grazing ban
A GROUP of Victorian mountain cattlemen, including an upper house Liberal MP, droving a mob of cattle through the state's alpine national park, have defied rangers' orders to turn back.
The cattlemen, including MP Graeme Stoney, are protesting the State Government's ban on grazing cattle in the park.
Doug Treasure, President of Mountain Cattlemen's Association of Victoria, who is riding with a separate group of protesters, today confirmed the first group had been intercepted yesterday.
Speaking by satellite phone near Wonnangatta Station in the alpine park, Mr Treasure said the first group had ignored a request to turn their cattle around and leave the park.
Riders in the first group were interviewed by a park ranger and had their names taken down, he said.
Three groups of rebel mountain cattlemen are following traditional but now forbidden stock routes through the park and plan to converge at the Wonnangatta Station cemetery tomorrow.
The alpine park's chief ranger Peter Jacobs said the authorities had been aware the cattlemen had planned to push cattle illegally through the park.
"One of our ranger patrols did meet some people with cattle yesterday afternoon near the Wonnangatta Valley," he said.
The group was warned their action was in breach of regulations and if they continued they risked being fined.
The maximum fine for bringing an animal into the park without permission was just over $1000, he said.
The park authorities would consider evidence from yesterday's incident before deciding whether to lay charges against the group, Mr Jacobs said.
This year's summer muster is the first test of the State Government's controversial ban on grazing cattle in the national park in what it says is a bid to protect the fragile alpine environment.
The Government is providing up to $100,000 over three years to individual licence holders to shift their cattle back into nearby state forest areas.
The cattlemen say the ban will end a 170-year-old high country tradition and want to preserve the right to drive cattle though the park at least once a year.
See our earlier News Item on this topic.
The Victorian Opposition view about the Bracks Government's decision to cancel grazing licences in the Alpine National Park
The Liberal Party supports continued access by mountain cattlemen to the Alpine National Park. Mr Doyle previously visited Dinner Plain to hear the concerns of the mountain cattlemen first hand.
Not only has the Bracks Labor Government reneged on a promise to cattlemen to extend their current licences; it used distorted images in 2005 to push its message in newspapers and deliberately overstated the adverse effects it claims cattle grazing has in the Alpine National Park.
The Bracks Government benignly neglects National Parks. Many Victorians have complained to Mr Doyle about the foxes, feral cats, pigs, wild horses, wild dogs, Sambar deer and the disturbing spread of choking weeds like blackberry bush that inhabit our National Parks.
It is also a matter of great concern to the Liberal Party that some areas of the Alpine National Park have very high fuel loads. The evidence of the 2003 Alpine fires is that this can be of great detriment to the long-term environmental values contained within such Parks, whether National or State.
Mr Doyle supported the Hon Graeme Stoney MLC's actions in riding with the cattlemen. Mr Doyle noted how the Bracks Labor Government supported a protest against the Australian Government's new workplace relations laws. That latter protest massively inconvenienced motorists and other users of Melbourne's CBD, in contrast to the Alpine protest that was conducted in a way that caused little if any inconvenience to others.
I understand that the cattlemen have now concluded their protest. The Hon Phil Davis MLC, Shadow MInister for Country Victoria, has recently reaffirmed that a Liberal Government is committed to repealing the current ban on cattle grazing in the Alpine National Park.
Edmund Carew Advisor Office of Robert Doyle MP Leader of the Liberal Party Tel: (61 3)
9651 8512 Fax: (61 3) 9651 8426 email@example.com