LEICHHARDT MP Warren Entsch has spoken up for drought-stricken graziers in regional Queensland, arguing for common-sense in relation to opening up national parks for cattle.
Mr Entsch was speaking against a Private Members Motion put up by Makin MP Tony Zappia, which criticised State Governments for easing restrictions on land clearing, mining, grazing and hunting in conservation areas and national parks.
He described the Queensland Government’s decision to allow graziers to agist drought-stricken cattle in five national parks and eight reserves as “an emergency response to an emergency situation”.
“As a former grazier myself, you do have to be practical about the fact that you are breeding and raising cattle for slaughter,” Mr Entsch said. “But this doesn’t mean that any grazier wants to see their cattle suffering, slowly starving to death on land that can no longer support them.”
The tragic situation has arisen from a “perfect storm” of events – a combination of the Gillard government’s knee-jerk decision to ban live exports to Indonesia, together with feed shortage from bushfires, emerging drought and the pressure of the upcoming calf drop in October-November.
“The decision to open up some of these conservation areas and national parks is purely a commonsense approach and a very humane one,” Mr Entsch said.
“But it seems that many people, including green groups, have conveniently forgotten that the national parks in question are predominantly former cattle stations.
“Given that they were considered suitable for inclusion as national parks after more than 100 years of cattle grazing, where is the risk to their suitability after temporary usage by graziers in their time of need?”
Mr Entsch said he also did not believe that the animal welfare groups, who played a key role in the 2011 bans, comprehended the full consequences of their actions.
“If they really wanted to help, they should take a trip to these areas in regional Queensland and bring along a gun and ammunition, saving the farmer the anguish of having to shoot their own animals.
“This would effectively drive home to them the true impact of rushed and poorly conceived policy.”
In the meantime, Mr Entsch said he would continue to work with the Cairns Chamber of Commerce and the Papua New Guinean government on the proposal to export cattle to PNG.
“This is a project which has gained incredible momentum and I am proud to be part of this practical solution.”