The Australian Electoral Commission has just declared the outcome for the Federal Seat of McEwen, in central eastern Victoria.
During the election campaign, the Mountain Cattlemen’s Association came out against the sitting Member, Rob Mitchell, because he opposed cattle grazing in the Alps.
In response, Mr Mitchell said:
“The Mountain Cattlemens Association of Victoria is a small group of people who have historically enjoyed something that few Australians have – free access to public assets to help build their wealth.”
“While we respect and admire their history and their traditions, it’s no longer possible to allow such a small group – mostly wealthy beef producers – to continue grazing cattle in areas that belong to the public, current and future generations.”
Mr Mitchell said there were many “intelligent, rational” reasons to keep cattle out of sensitive alpine ecosystems and noted NSW had decided to stop mountain cattle grazing in the late 1960s.
The Victorian Coalition is in thrall to the mountain cattlemen (as shown recently by them creating an advisory group on the Alpine Park stacked with grazing and pro-grazing interests). The state government was widely criticised for putting its political allegiance with the cattlemen ahead of good policy development in crafting its ‘fuel reduction’ grazing program, which was subsequently stopped after intervention by the federal government . As was reported in The Age, the government pushed ahead with its controversial grazing trial despite being told by Parks Victoria that no “scientific, social or economic evidence existed to support it”.
It would be worth the state government taking note of the fact that in spite of a nation wide swing against the ALP in the election, pro-grazing views within the electorate were not able to affect Mr Mitchell.
In an interesting side note, Victorian Liberal MP Donna Petrovich had resigned from state Parliament to stand against Rob Mitchell in the September election. She holds a regressive position on a range of climate related issues, including supporting continued use of coal and opposing wind energy.
In Hansard, Ms Petrovich raises various issues about what she sees as the ‘problems’ with wind energy: issues of reliability of wind, health risks, visual impacts.
Ms Petrovich is concerned that the previous government did not consult with the community over wind farm policy (yet she consistently refused to say who the Coalition consulted with in framing their policy).
She says that the No Go zones that block wind energy from much of the state were ‘carefully’ selected where communities ‘on the whole have told us that they are not appreciative of wind farms’. In the same speech she only mentioned anti-wind groups as being the groups she had worked with in forming her opinion rather than the broader community.
She endorses the Coalition’s anti wind policy VC82: ‘The position the government has come to is one that I am proud of.’ (Hansard, 12/10/11).
On coal she says:
“The Coalition looks towards the effectiveness and abundance of brown coal as a means to provide a reliable source of energy for Victorians”. (Hansard October 11, 2011).