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A battle between the Victorian Coalition state government and the local Greens Member has erupted in Melbourne.
This year, newly elected Victorian State Premier Ted Baillieu introduced a scientific trail of cattle grazing in areas at high risk of bushfire.
Melbourne Greens MP Adam Bandt has introduced a private members bill to ban the research, as the bush land concentrated on in the study is in the Alpine National Park.
The study was an election promise by the Bailleu government as part of its commitment to explore new methods to reduce bushfire risk.
Minister for Environment and Climate Change Ryan Smith said research sites had been selected to avoid environmental impact and only areas previously the site of grazing would be used.
When putting forward his private members bill against the cattle grazing, Mr. Bandt said, “Cattle are in the high country again not because the state government has determined the scientific research to be inconclusive; cattle are there only for the basest of political reasons.
“The Victorian State government’s return of cattle grazing to the Alpine National Park is an act of environmental vandalism and this bill puts an end to it.”
When announcing the cattle bushfire study, Mr. Smith said, “This scientific trial, being undertaken by Professor Mark Adams of the Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre, will provide much-needed evidence on the effectiveness of strategic cattle grazing for fuel and fire management purposes.
“The Coalition Government is committed to making transparent and informed decisions on bushfire management in Victoria’s high country based on credible scientific evidence.”
The research began with 400 cattle introduced to six sites over 25,600 hectares of the Alpine National Park, where they will remain until 30 April.
The cattle were placed in the Alpine National Park in early January this year.
Speaking against the cattle grazing, Mr. Bandt said the cattle were a threat to the environment of the Alpine National Park.
“Cattle grazing will endanger a number of threatened species, destroy vegetation and pollute creeks.
“These alpine areas are important wilderness and heritage areas and an expansion of cattle grazing would threaten an important part of Victoria’s tourist economy.”
The cattle grazing study is currently being lead by Professor Adams from the University of Sydney.
The Coalition government says the cattle grazing research will ensure all available measures are taken to protect the national parks and state parks from fire damage.
Since the devastating bushfires in January 2009, when large areas of Victorian bushfires were burned and 173 people were killed, governments have been under extreme pressure to ensure home and urban areas are protected from bushfires.
In response to the deaths in the Black Saturday bushfires, a Bushfire Royal Commission was set up, handing down a number of recommendations last year.
There were several high profile members of the previous Labor government, particularly then Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon, who received extreme criticism from the Commission for not reacting appropriately to the bushfire crisis.
The Coalition used many of the findings of the Royal Commission during their successful campaign to oust the 12-year state Labor government in last year’s election.