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Transcript
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

14 October, 2005
Interview on ABC Gippsland

Mountain cattlemen and decision about heritage listing Alpine National Park


ANNOUNCER:
Now the Federal Minister for the Environment, Senator Ian Campbell, is pushing a plan that would see the entire Alpine area places on the National Heritage List. Earlier in the week Minister Campbell made a $15 million offer to the State Government that would, among other things, see a small number of cattle return to the Alpine Park. The State Government banned grazing in the park earlier this year and in no uncertain terms dispatched Minister Campbell's offer - to the recycling bin I would feel. Senator Campbell joins me now, Senator Campbell good morning.

SENATOR CAMPBELL:
Good morning.

ANNOUNCER:
Now despite what many might see as the merits of this plan, in terms of a greater Alpine Park, it won't have any effect on the return of grazing to that area at all. Is that right?

SENATOR CAMPBELL:
Well, I've obviously bashed my head against a pretty solid brick wall there. I remain very committed to the concept that you can balance alpine grazing with the very important environmental protection; you can use sophisticated management techniques. And I feel very, quite frankly, personally upset that we're going to see the end of a 170-year old very uniquely Australian tradition occur because of the Victorian Government's action. But I admit that if they don't accept my $15 million plan and significant investment in the alps then it's not going to happen. So what I've decided to do overnight is that I will not proceed with the listing of just the Victorian alps; I will get the Heritage Commission to assess the whole greater alpine region right across Victorian, NSW and into the ACT.

ANNOUNCER:
What difference will that make? What difference will that make in any discernible area, not just about the grazing issue but just more broadly, what difference will that make to the area?

SENATOR CAMPBELL:
Well firstly it would create, potentially, the second biggest national park in Australia. I think most people, regardless of what they think on the alpine grazing issue, would regard that there's a very unique part of Australia; it would put it on the Heritage List and that does give it a level of protection that it isn't afforded at the moment. But can I just say on alpine grazing, I want to leave that plan available to future Victorian governments, I don't want to see an end to alpine cattle grazing. I don't think it needs to be effectively put as an activity into libraries or into movies, it can stay as living history; but it's obviously not going to happen under the current Victorian Government so I accept that.

ANNOUNCER:
Your critics would suggest that today's announcement is simply another stunt by yourself; I think we've had you riding around the lawns of Parliament House, we had a particularly striking photograph of you on Tuesday, I think it was, with some of the new gadgetry, electronic collars - just to name a couple. Are you chasing headlines on this one?

SENATOR CAMPBELL:
I'm actually trying to get the message through that there is - and I just listened to Dennis Napthine's arguments before - there is a balance to be struck here. The concept of just locking up national parks or closing down pastoral leases or productive country and saying, 'look, for environmental reasons that sort of appeal to the inner suburbs of Melbourne and people who spend time sitting in cafes sipping lattes', it's not necessary. You can actually have a balance between agricultural production and the environment, and I'm trying to demonstrate that. If it means that I've got to get on a horse at Parliament House or show people a new bit of CSIRO technology in a colourful way then I'll try to do it. I think trying to bridge the gap between city and country is actually pretty important business for Australia.

ANNOUNCER:
Have you been out-manoeuvred by the State Government on this issue of the overall management of the park area, and certainly on this issue of grazing at least - you'd have to concede that?

SENATOR CAMPBELL:
Look, if you call putting up a brick wall and saying we're going to stop a 170-year activity as 'out-manoeuvred', I'm out-manoeuvred. But I'm...

ANNOUNCER:
...You backed yourself into a corner on this, didn't you? You made the statement then all of a sudden you had to find the policy to back it up.

SENATOR CAMPBELL:
No, no I said there's only one way I'm going to get mountain cattle grazing retained on the alps and that is to put in some serious money and some serious work to creating a more sophisticated management technique. That's what I've done; they've still said no to that. They haven't told us how they're going to stop feral pigs, deer, brumbies from doing the damage they do to the bogs and the fenns; they have pulled a stunt to appeal to a few Green preferences in the suburbs of Melbourne. That is not going to help the environment of the alps; people who look at this issue as closely as I have know that's the case and in the meantime the environmental values in the alps will be denuded, as well as losing a cultural icon for Australia. I will keep fighting for that; if means I've got to ride a horse across Parliament House a hundred times, I'll do it. But I'll keep fighting for that until we get sense to prevail. It's obviously not going to prevail under the Victorian Labor Government, let's hope that future governments - Labor or Liberal - might come to their senses.

ANNOUNCER:
Minister Campbell, we'll leave it there. Thank you for your time this morning.

SENATOR CAMPBELL:
Thanks.

ANNOUNCER:
Minister Ian Campbell there, Minister for the Environment and Heritage.

Commonwealth of Australia