Clarity Needed on National Park Grazing Leases

Local property owners making crucial drought-management decisions in the face of strong El Nino predictions are floundering due to Government uncertainty about the renewal of long-established grazing leases in Queensland national parks.

Speaking in parliament last week, the Member for Gregory Lachlan Millar called for the government to end the uncertainty which has caused months of anxiety to beef producers such as Peter Mayne and his family whose property adjoins the Carnarvon National Park.

“Peter’s situation shows just what damage this is doing at a time when grazing businesses are really struggling due to one of the worst droughts in living memory,”  said Mr Millar.

“I have been trying to get clarification on this since May. In April, the Minister for National Parks said in the media that the government would not renew national park grazing leases as they expired. Then in July, I was told the Government’s position hadn’t been decided.”

Mr Millar told parliament that failure to renew the Maynes’ lease would not only worsen the impact of drought but would impact on the Maynes’ sustainable grazing model which sees no use of poisons on animals, or as sprays and baits.

“Their operation is an organically certified business which abides by the Global Animal Partnership Code of Practice. This requires stringent audits to maintain certification. To suddenly have 50,000 acres of un-managed country on their boundary, or country which is managed with poisons, would be disastrous.”

Mr Millar said he had made representation on their behalf to see if he could get an official advice about their situation and in July received a response from the Minister for National Parks saying the lease would be looked at when the government has “clarified” its position on grazing leases in National Parks.

“This still hasn’t happened,” said Mr Millar. “I am worried that the government will take a purely ideological position driven by its need for green preferences. There are better solutions.

“In the Maynes’ case, Queensland benefits from this lease. I tabled a photograph in parliament to show how beautifully managed this country is. Queensland is not only receiving crown rental for the privilege, but also wonderful stewardship in the sustainable management of feral pests and weeds, fire and erosion.

“The alternative is for the taxpayer to fund public employees to undertake the same activities. The Minister hasn’t had time to decide about term leases but he has announced five new national parks. So where are five new management plans and staff budgets to ensure proper stewardship of the landscapes and habitat? In the case of term leases, the government can make stewardship a part of the lease. It saves taxpayers money and boosts Queensland’s productivity at the same time,” he said.