from ABC and Cairns News
The Queensland government has ruled out any prospect of allowing cattle back in to national parks for grazing as drought conditions across two-thirds of the state worsen.
A six-month ‘drought emergency grazing arrangement’ on five national parks ended on December 31, 2013.
A far north Queensland grazier says the removal of cattle from national parks not only led to the deaths of countless animals, it’s now posing a major fire risk.
Grazier Ineke McDowall says buffel grass in nearby Blackbraes national park, in the Etheridge Shire, is so thick it’s made mustering cattle out of the parks difficult.
“It’s like a wheat field, and it’s absolutely beautiful over there because they have had a normal season.”
Mrs McDowall says the emergency grazing on Blackbraes was a life saver for her cattle and family business after 80 per cent of Perryvale Station was burnt out in bushfires in October 2012.
However she says others have not been so fortunate.
“When the emergency grazing arrangement ended, countless cattle were forced back to starvation paddocks where they faced a certain and miserable demise.”
.But National Parks Minister Steve Dickson has denied that’s the case, and has definitively ruled out any further grazing on the state’s national parks.
“I’m very happy to go out there and have a look, but we brokered a deal with the grazing industry of which we fulfilled our component and the grazing industry fulfilled theirs by being out (of the national park) by the 31st of December.
“The feedback I’ve got from my staff is the use that these parks sustained (carrying cattle) over that period of time has lessened the amount of buffel grass, but I’m not sure that it’s recovered to the extent that you’re talking about.”
Blackraes station in situated on the Hann Highway an hour and a half north east of Hughenden. The property has had excellent rainfall and is carrying a huge body of now green buffel and natural grasses.
It lies in the centre of the basalt country known for its sweet and mineral rich vegetation. Blackbraes was a cattle property of some renown for much of last century producing quality well grown cattle for breeder markets and in some years could produce steers good enough for meatworks.
Why it became a national park is anyone’s guess but it was probably a victim of the Labor Party’s attack on the grazing industry when it refused to renew leases after they fell due during the last 20 years.
Blackbraes, like tens of other once thriving cattle or sheep properties should have not been removed from production. It now should be made available on a permanent basis for drought affected graziers from across the state.