Cattlemen's call to be heard in commission

Alpine grazing should be considered at bushfire commission say cattlemen

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CATTLE CALL: Mountain Cattlemen's Association of Victoria president Bruce McCormack hopes the role of alpine grazing in fuel reduction will be considered by a bushfire royal commission. Photo by Rhyll McCormack.

CATTLE CALL: Mountain Cattlemen's Association of Victoria president Bruce McCormack hopes the role of alpine grazing in fuel reduction will be considered by a bushfire royal commission. Photo by Rhyll McCormack.

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The Mountain Cattlemen's Association of Victoria hopes calls for increased alpine grazing will be considered at a bushfire royal commission.

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As Prime Minister Scott Morrison receives feedback from the states about the terms of a bushfire royal commission, Mountain Cattlemen's Association of Victoria president Bruce McCormack has only one wish - to be heard.

"Cattlemen should be given the opportunity to be part of a royal commission," Mr McCormack said.

"I think with fuel reduction burning and cattle grazing, we can reduce the intensity of the fire.

"There's been a big resurgence in calls for more alpine grazing but it's been mainly from the general public.

"We haven't heard from any government body."

Mr McCormack said that, although it would take an Act of Parliament to allow grazing in the Alpine National Park, it would be simpler to offer access to state parks.

Grazing would help in places where fuel reduction burns might be too damaging to the environment.

"You can burn the alpine ash and graze the snow gums," he said.

"The snow gums can't handle too much heat.

"Hundreds of years ago, lightning strikes would burn out regularly and there was a lot less stuff on the ground.

"When there's a lightning strike now, they send dozers and machinery to put those lightning strikes out.

"Nature had its own way of managing fuel loads but people have buggered it.

"We can't stop fires but we can reduce their intensity.

"We can help do that by grazing our cattle in some sections next to where it has been burned."

The University of Melbourne research in 2017 found snow gums were under threat from repeated fires.

On average, after three successive fires, half of all snow gums were dead.

Environment and Climate Change Shadow Minister David Morris refused to say whether he would support greater alpine grazing.

"I think it's putting the cart before the horse to talk about whether particular solutions are appropriate ahead of a full inquiry," Mr Morris said.

"There may be merit in all sorts of ideas but I think we need a complete investigation before we start talking about particular solutions."

From May 2015, the Victorian government changed the law to limit grazing in the Alpine and River Red Gum national parks.

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