Cattlemen mustered off the Alps

We’d like to sincerely congratulate Steve Bracks for his decision in late May to send 8,000 cattle out of the Alpine National Park. The mostly well-heeled farmers who like to portray themselves as “Mountain cattlemen”, predictably complained loudly despite still being able to graze 10,000 cattle in public land around the edges and getting $100 a cow for the next three years. Their 170-year-old practice of using public land to fatten their cattle on is still able to continue in other areas.

The cow farmers are saying it will kill their livelihood (yet they all have properties like any other farmer). Peter Ryan, leader of the State National Party, has accused Bracks of “killing the Man from Snowy River”. In fact, The Man from Snowy River was about rounding up brumbies on the high country, there isn’t a cow in that poem.

The Alps could now meet the criteria to be listed as World Heritage. But in contrast to this, the Federal Government plans to place Victoria’s mountain cattlemen and their grazing of the high country on the National Heritage list!

Heritage legislation now recognises traditions and groups of people, and the federal National Party Member for Gippsland, Peter McGauran, says he hopes the listing would overrule the state decision. This is unlikely but they have to beat their chests rather than just graciously accept they’ve been on a good wicket of damn cheap agistment for years. The cow graziers are trying to claim their cows will in fact add value to any World Heritage listing (!). You’ve got to give them credit for creative arguments if not rugged independence’ (so independent they have to depend on dirt cheap fattening land).

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