It’s heartening to see that the new Environment Minister, Lisa Neville, has moved so quickly on the Alpine grazing issue. The following comes from the ABC.
The Victorian Government says it will remove cattle from the Alpine National Park, despite continued lobbying from the Mountain Cattlemen’s Association.
Cattlemen are calling for a continuation of the alpine grazing trial initiated by the former Coalition Government, saying it will prove grazing reduces fuel loads and the risk of bushfires.
“If we get the opportunity to sit down with the minister, we can prove a point that it’s imperative that the trial goes ahead,” said association president, Charlie Lovick.
Environment Minister Lisa Neville says she’s agreed to a sit down with the group, but says there’ll be no change to Labor’s plan to scrap the trial.
“This is a policy that we introduced legislation on back in 2005-06,” she said.
“The evidence that was presented to the Parliament and to the government of the day was that cattle grazing was doing significant environmental harm in our alpine national parks.
“We believe the science hasn’t changed.”
Ms Neville is conciliatory towards the Cattlemen’s Association and its member’s passion for the high country.
“I absolutely appreciate their commitment to the area and to the work that they do in the National Park.”
But she disagrees that cattle help reduce fire risks.
“There’s been a lot of work that’s been done around reducing fuel loads, and what the evidence says is that it doesn’t reduce the fire risk. In fact, it could increase it, because of what it is that cattle will eat when they’re in the National Park.”
The National Party committed to the trial in the lead-up to the 2010 election in return for support from the mountain cattlemen.
Hundreds of cattle were due to enter the Alpine National Park within months in the second year of a three-year study.
Meanwhile, a Supreme Court legal challenge to the former government’s policy, initiated by the Victorian National Parks Association (VNPA), is still in train.
Launched prior to the election and set for March 2015, the VNPA says it’s yet to decide on whether it will follow through with the case.
The VNPA is on the record as saying it wants to set a legal precedent that will constrain future governments from reintroducing grazing in national parks.
Ms Neville says she’s meeting with the VNPA later in the week to discuss the case, after which she’ll decide whether to support it.
“Those discussions will continue and that determination will be made over the next week or so,” she said.