NATIONAL PARKS: News Weekly
Tony Burke's showdown with mountain cattlemen
, May 28, 2011
Allowing cattle to graze in Australia’s national parks poses a threat to noisy and radical green activists, who have huge sway in Canberra, says Victorian businessman “Tocky” O’Reilly.
There is a wise old ditty that reflects the reality of the Victorian mountain cattlemen’s protracted struggle against a modern-day enclosure movement orchestrated by the various radical urban greens:
The law locks up both man and woman
Who steals the goose from off the common;
But lets the greater felon loose
Who steals the common from the goose.
Grazing cattle in the high country has been a long tradition in Victoria. Not only are cattle fattened for market; they ensure that the grasses and undergrowth are kept manageable and lessen the likelihood of bushfire. But inner-city greens scoff at such a reasonable idea. The cattle, they mistakenly argue, spread weeds and destroy soaks, bogs and fragile alpine grasses and flora.
In recent decades, radical greens have infiltrated the never-ending name-changing organisation of the Victorian government agency that manages the national parks.
Many government bureaucrats in the parks and wildlife services are affiliated with Victorian National Parks Association (VNPA), a green lobby group that looks and sounds as if it is an official or semi-official Victorian government agency entitled to make authoritative pronouncements on the environment, irrespective of which party is in power.
The long-term green agenda over many years was the removal of cattle and humans from the landscape by ensuring the gradual enclosures of vast tracts of crown land. The former Land Conservation Council of Victoria, under the John Cain and Joan Kirner state Labor governments of 1982-92, restricted farmers’ access to reserves, waterways and high-country regions.
In the late 1980s, the high country was locked up upon the recommendations of the Land Conservation Council. Roads and tracks were closed. Hunters, campers, fishermen and four-wheel drive vehicles were excluded from traditional bush areas. Though cattle-grazing was not yet banned by legislation, the ultimate intention was always the implementation of a city-based green agenda, which would eventually outlaw cattle-grazing.
In 2005, the Steve Bracks Labor Government enforced the grazing ban. Only feral dogs, cats, deer and bush-walkers could roam the vast hinterland.
The radical green proposals were aided and abetted by some Conservation Department employees, for they, like the old Soviet privileged elite, the nomenklatura, would be able to enjoy with their families unfettered access to the hunting, fishing and camping in the lands closed off to ordinary citizens (not that the law-makers at the time necessarily appreciated that those additional benefits would automatically benefit the enforcers in this way).
With the reintroduction of cattle-grazing into the high country following the election of the Liberal-led Ted Baillieu Government in November 2010, the VNPA and its networks of allied and interlinked green organisations went into meltdown.
Into the mess waded the federal Environment Minister, Tony Burke. The real issue then becomes one of state powers versus Canberra and of inner-city greenies’ agendas versus the rural population’s needs.
In short, this contest is a rehash of the Hawke Labor Government’s confrontation with the Tasmanian Government in 1983 over the latter’s plans to dam the Franklin River. The High Court of Australia’s ruling that the Commonwealth could overrule the Tasmanian Government was another milestone on the road to ever-greater centralisation of political power in Australia and the ascendancy of the radical green agenda.
Since Franklin, the Commonwealth has intervened in state affairs on a number of environmental issues, including its enactment of the disastrous national Water Act 2007.
Minister Burke should have learned that local issues are best handled locally by the state government or local communities. The Commonwealth does not always have workable answers for local issues.
However, it is the strategy of radical greens to keep the Commonwealth involved on all environmental fronts, because it will do their bidding to placate the inner-city green radicals and their left-wing cohorts.
The so-called scientific arguments against cattle-grazing and farming in Victoria’s high country are simply a smoke screen for the eventual enclosure movement of much of Australia’s crown land.