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

ABC Victorian Regional Victorian Country Hour
10 January 2005

Discussion about the proposal to heritage list alpine grazing areas


Presenter:
Well, how will that submission be received? Australia's Minister for the Environment and Heritage is Senator Ian Campbell.

Senator, thanks for joining us on the Country Hour this afternoon.

Ian Campbell - Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage:
My pleasure.

Presenter:
We heard Tim Barker say that the door was open to them making this appeal to you from the letter they received and also the letter that you sent to Ian Maxfield. And we've also heard Tim Barker being quoted that it's virtually being offered heritage listing to the mountain cattlemen. Do you see it that way?

Campbell:
Well, it will go through the proper process. But he was right; I made sure the door was open. I think when you consider mountain cattle grazing or alpine grazing and the entire heritage associated with it, there'd be hardly an Australian that wouldn't agree that it's a vital part of our heritage.

I was just thinking while I was listening to that interview that one of the measures of that is that when the gurus who put together the opening of the Sydney Olympics thought what were the sort of things that ... the themes you could use to thoroughly demonstrate to the rest of the world the sort of iconic parts of Australia's history, what do they choose of the opening of that magnificent ceremony. Of course it was hundreds of cattlemen wearing purely Australian gear thundering across the Sydney Olympic stage, I guess representing our ... both our Anzac heritage but also our mountain cattle heritage. And of course the two are intertwined, quite frankly.

Presenter:
Yeah, there's no doubt about it, it does have an iconic status. But I suppose the opponents to it would also argue that the country where these cattle are running also has some heritage and conservation values which they argue is being destroyed by those cattle as well.

Campbell:
Well, I think, unfortunately, both are partially right. You can't argue about the heritage and cultural value of the mountain cattlemen and their part of Australian history and, ultimately, the fact that that heritage and the association with horse riding, for example, it's a pivotal part of it, led Australians to become known as the light-horsemen as well. They ... that fed into our brilliant performances in First and Second World Wars when it came to riding horses.

But, yes, there are certainly impacts. Wherever humans go, there are impacts on the environment.

Now, the radical staunch environmentalist will say, look, you just can't have humans interacting with the environment. That's an absurd situation. I think most of your listeners know that what modern Australians, what sensible Australians, are looking for is an accommodation between human activity and the natural environment. And it's absurd to suggest that you can't have alpine grazing being done in sympathy and harmony with the environment because it's been done for in excess of a hundred years. It can be done and it's got to be properly managed. But the alpine graziers aren't going to argue about that.

Presenter:
Now, there are I suppose some thoughts there that they can still go on, the heritage will stay, that as long as the cattle aren't in those high alpine areas. They're still allowed into other national parks; I don't think there's any dispute about that. Is there a middle ground or is this something you will be considering when you consider that application that you're ... that you have?

Campbell:
Well, to me it seems we've got a couple of issues running in parallel. The Victorian government, as they tend ... whenever you get a Labor government in Victoria they tend to try to close down alpine grazing. I think it's a bit of a tragedy, but they're ... they are running a process which I understand leads to a licence to do that. We are running a different process which is to look at the heritage listing of the activities, or parts of the activities.

So there are parallel processes. It seems to me you don't need to be a rocket scientist to work this out, that there will ... there could potentially be conflict between the two processes.

Presenter:
Yeah, and I think both of them have recognised that. It sounds, if I might paraphrase you then, Senator, that you are very, very ... going to be quite supportive of this application.

Campbell:
Well, I'm a great supporter of the heritage values that we're talking about. I will have to look at the detail of the submission. As I understand it, the department has received a submission, that my department has gone back and asked for some clarification of some points. But I will look at the application within the law. I will make sure that I apply all the proper ... that make sure that it goes through the proper processes. It's not just going to get a tick. But I don't think I'm any different to most Australians who would consider that there is significant heritage associated with these activities. There's just no doubt about it. And ... so ... but it will have to go through the proper process and I ... we're not going to give it any special treatment.

We want our federal and Australian heritage processes to have great, you know, currency basically. We want people to understand that, you know, when something is heritage listed it's very, very important and important to all Australians. So we're not just going to put things through for political reasons.

Presenter:
Just to finish off, let's just clarify it there. If the state government does come up and say that it will be stopped, it does get heritage listing, you can overrule if that decision is made, is that correct?

Campbell:
I don't have legal advice on that. People are saying that's possible. Let's hope it doesn't get to that. I mean, the great thing in Australia's democracy is that Australians have a pretty good sense about what's fair in this place. If a state Labor government does what they tried to do in the past and close it down, they get a pretty quick signal; they lose their cars, they lose their office, they all go with their superannuation. So the people will decide these things ultimately. Let's hope it's not a typical Canberra versus, you know, Victorian government sort of issue. It doesn't need to be. These guys have got to be sensible. We're going to be sensible. And the two can live hand in hand.

There's no doubt that mountain cattle grazing, alpine grazing, has been going on for generations. It can be done in sympathy with the environment and it would have to be an ideologically warped, you know, Labor state government that ... try to stop this activity taking place.

Presenter:
We'll leave it there. Senator, thanks for your time.

Campbell:
Thank you.

Presenter:
Thank you. Senator Ian Campbell there.

ENDS

Commonwealth of Australia