Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities
Victorian Government must provide information on alpine grazing
1 March 2011
The Commonwealth Government has demanded the Victorian Government provide all relevant information about its reintroduction of cattle grazing to the Alpine National Park within two weeks.
When the Victorian Government reintroduced cattle to the park it did not refer the action for assessment under national environmental law.
Since that time, the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (SEWPaC) has been meeting with the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment and requesting the information on which the decision to not refer the action was based.
Yesterday, the Acting Secretary of SEWPaC wrote to his Victorian counterpart providing a two-week deadline for the Victorian Government to provide all relevant information about cattle grazing in the Alpine National Park by March 15, 2011.
Environment Minister Tony Burke said his department would then consider the information before providing advice as to whether the Victorian Government's actions were illegal under national environmental law.
"After considering this information the federal department will be able to provide me with advice on whether national environmental law was breached when the Victorian Government failed to refer the matter for federal approval," Mr Burke said.
"Separate to the legal issues, there are matters of principle. We are talking about a National Park, not a farm.
"Last week I visited the park to see first-hand the damage already caused by the cattle in just a few weeks.
"It is urgent that we get the detailed information required from the Victorian Government to determine if its actions breach federal law.
"Victoria can't expect us to wait around while cattle are stomping over endangered wetlands.
"This issue sets a dangerous precedent for the rest of our nation's National Parks."