OLD sparring partners, the Mountain Cattlemen’s Association of Victoria and the Victorian National Parks Association, are on a collision course again after the Liberal-National Coalition stormed back into office last week.
The cattlemen actively supported the Coalition in the election campaign on the basis cattle would be able to return to the high country as a fuel reduction management tool after being booted out by the Labor government in 2005.
The North East branch of their association went into recess after the 2005 decision, but was reformed under Bowmans Forest grazier Ken Heywood in September.
Alpine grazing was part of member for Benambra Bill Tilley’s election platform and crucially for the cattlemen, the National Party won back the seat of Gippsland East when former journalist Tim Bull blasted out independent, Craig Ingram.
To what extent cattle will be allowed back and when remains unclear in the election wash-up, but the parks association has described the move as “retrogade step” lacking any scientific basis.
“I don’t think cattle are going to go back everywhere they once were, but I think there will be opportunities,” Mr Heywood said.
“There could be areas where cattle could go back into without causing too much trouble.”
Mr Heywood said land in the headwaters of the Buffalo and Kiewa rivers and an area between between Cobungra Station, near Omeo, and the Bogong High Plains could accommodate cattle.
Since the 2005 decision, cattlemen have endured a bushfire and long-term drought, leading to reduced stock numbers.
Parks association parks manager Phil Ingamells said there were “abundant reasons” why cattle shouldn’t return.
“The recovery of the high plains since 2005, when grazing licences ended, has been remarkable,” he said.
“What had become a cow-trampled farmscape is regaining its grandeur.”
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