Tags: alpine national park

29 Jan 2006, Comments Off on A great big steaming pile

A great big steaming pile

Author: Helen



Last year, I posted a few times on the alpine cattle dispute, the ban on grazing in the Victorian high country, and the appropriation of “tradition” and iconic status by the grazier families to try and win an unwinnable debate. If you’re new to this story, here’s a very simple explanation.

They’re back… and they’re still framing the debate like veteran spin doctors. Their court of appeal is the hearts and minds of ordinary Australians, and they’re desperate to portray themselves as the innocent and threatened upholders of tradition.

Tradition is the buzzword they zap us with every time and, like the experienced animal handlers they are, they have journalists eating out of their hand.

Tradition is a funny thing. It’s a habit we are unwilling or unable to break. Cattle grazing in Victoria’s high country is a 170-year-old tradition that won’t be broken easily…

…For Lovick, some traditions should never be broken, because they tell the story of who we are…

The “170 year old tradition” (if the Balcony has any European or Asian readers, I’m sure they are rolling around clutching their sides at that one) is quite colourful, with occasional moments of equitational brilliance, but it’s over in that part of the Alps. And the brilliant bits are to do with feats of horsemanship, not with the cattle. Culturally speaking, no-one could give a stuff about the cows; it’s the horses and horsemen and women that we as a nation love, and it’s the horse and leisure industry that they should turn to now as they clip-clop into a new millenium. Oh, wait…

NSW banned alpine cattle grazing in the Kosciuszko National Park more than 30 years ago. The Victorian Government’s decision to do the same in the Alpine National Park hardly came as a surprise, and even before the decision, Lovick began diversifying.
For years, friends and visitors had come to his Merrijig property to assist in the yearly cattle muster to the high country and in the late 1960s it was suggested that he should charge people to participate. His horse trail riding business is now more profitable than his cattle.

In other words, he’s already done it (and so have other High Country horsemen). So why the well-organised tantrums by the Men from Snowy River? Because the High Country grazing was a fantastic little sideline – paid for by you and me, the taxpayer. Sweet. However, according to Mr Lovick, the cattle grazier is just a little battler whose livelihood will be lost or dreadfully curtailed.

The ban on cattle grazing will lead to changes in the high country. Many cattlemen, says Lovick, will struggle to survive with only access to the state forest. He has cut his herd by 220 head and sold 40 hectares of land. Life for the cattleman has also changed.
Lovick, who suffers from a serious back complaint, has bought an apartment in the QV development in Swanston Street and regularly visits Melbourne.
The mountain cattleman is a devoted supporter of the Melbourne Football Club and loves the city. He enjoys grabbing takeaway Vietnamese before heading to the footy.
The bad back precludes much of the stock work and he often catches up with the trail riders in his four-wheel-drive rather than on horseback…

Ex – squeeze me? Apartment in the QV development? Melbourne Football Club? Vietnamese takeaway? Four-wheel drive when on the droving trail? Just how “traditional” is this mountain man?

Do you appreciate the irony here? Single mums raising the next generation would come in for severe criticism from many of the graziers’ supporters, while you and I contribute to pay for cattle agistment for the owner of a QV apartment who’s pretending he’s some kind of historical relic. Give me a break.

But the Victorian Liberal opposition is completely lapping this shit up. A week after the AGE article was published, the cattlemen – and the cattle – were back in the Alps (note, they are still allowed into the State Forest adjacent to the national park area in dispute):

The cattlemen say they will stop at nothing, until the ban is lifted. Yesterday Environment minister and acting premier John Thwaites was joined in the Alpine National Park by environmental groups to begin a cleanup of what it claims is years of damage caused by cattle grazing. Today as part of week long protest at last year’s ban, around 10 cattlemen began driving a mob of cattle through the Park. Despite the threat of fines, Mountain Cattleman Charlie Lovick says he is not worried about breaking the law.

Stop at nothing? Isn’t that a bit desperate and seditious? Apparently not. One of the people on the ride was Liberal MP Graeme Stoney. He was supported enthusiastically by our solid-wood Leader of the Opposition, Robert Doyle. “Graeme Stoney is a man’s man!” he enthused. Doyle had obviously forgotten his own policy speech of 2002, where he announced “‘NO GO AREAS’ AT DEMONSTRATIONS AND PROTEST MEETINGS WILL BE DEFINED CLEARLY TO HELP POLICE DO THEIR JOB OF PROTECTING PEOPLE AND THEIR PROPERTY.” (Yes, the version I’ve linked to is all in caps; just one more strange thing about Doyle.) Clearly, this was not meant to apply to Liberal politicians and their supporters, who should be allowed to go anywhere and protest about anything they like.

About two weeks after that, Charlie Lovick’s bad back seemed to recover quite miraculously (ACA, where are you when we need you?)

AN 800kg Hereford bullock will lead 200 drovers along high country tracks in the latest protest against the Victorian Government’s ban on cattle grazing in the Alpine National Park.
Mansfield cattleman, John Lovick, will lead the fray, riding his pet Hereford – Johnny.

So, that’s one thing we can expect this year – lots more free entertainment from the whip-cracking, trick-riding, agistment fee-avoiding Crazy Graziers of the high country. Do you think they’ll come to town to protest against the end of a 105 – year tradition of arbitrated industrial relations? Will they heck.

OK, then I’ll begin.

See the horsies.
See the pretty, pretty horsies!

mountaincattlemen.jpg

The pretty horsies have come to town to protest against no more cows in the Alpine national park.
See the cattle farmer.
The cattle farmer pays $5.50 a head per season to have cattle in the national park.
That is very, very cheap.
The cattle farmer is very sad that now he will have to pay what the other farmers pay.

See the Greenie.
The Greenie says cows damage the environ-ment in the national park.
Naughty, naughty Greenie!
Greenie is killing the Man from Snowy River!!
Do you know who the Man from Snowy River was, children?
The MFSR was a man who rode a horsie.
He rode a horsie very, very fast.
He didn’t actually have any cows.
The cattle farmers say if we don’t have cows in the alps any more, no one will ever ride a horsie very, very fast.

See the bog.
See the alpine bog.
Bogs are boring! Who cares about bogs?
See the hoofprints in the alpine bog.
The alpine bog used to be like a big sponge.
A sponge just like the one you have in the bath!
Water ran through the sponge down to the rivers.
Pretty, fresh river!
See the river.
The river is full of silt.
The alpine bog is all com-pac-ted with hoof prints.

See the scientist.
Boring scientist!
He’s not cute, he doesn’t ride a horse, and he doesn’t wear a drizabone!
See the scientist waving independent studies showing that Alpine Grazing doesnÌt reduce Blazing and in fact it is degrading the environ-ment!
Well, who would ever want to make a movie about someone like that?

See the cele-bri-ty.
See the celebrity join the protesters with their pretty horsies.
That’s funny, other celebrities get laughed at when they join protesters!
And usually the pretty horsies would be stomping on the protesters.
Squish, squish, squish!
Repeat after me, children:
Celebrity in anti nuclear protest, bad.
Celebrity in protest against national park, good.

See the office worker.
See the office worker looking at all the pretty horsies.
He wishes he could afford a pretty horse like that!
The office worker doesn’t know his taxes are helping to support the pretty horsies.
That’s because the cows only cost $5.50.
Per head per season.
And his taxes pay for cleaning up after them.

21 Feb 2005, Comments (0)

The anti-cowgirl

Author: Helen

Like some guy in lederhosen on an alp, sending a blast out on his alphorn, I’m posting an email from the Victorian National Parks association. (I’m getting a theme going here. Alps… Cows…)

My little boy has been mad keen on drawing cows recently. I love them. They are very sweet cows.

cow_black.jpg

They also come in purple.

cow_purple.jpg

I have nothing against cows, personally.

Here’s the email text:

JUST A FEW MINUTES TO HELP THE ALPS…

The Victorian Government will make a decision VERY SOON on the
future of private cattle grazing in Victoria’s Alpine National Park.

This ridiculously outdated farming practice threatens the survival of
many native plants and animals, spreads weeds, and damages
ancient peat beds and other wetlands of the High Country.

PLEASE write a letter to your local paper, or ring talkback radio,
and let them know FROM THE HEART that you want Victoria’s
Alpine National Park to be given the chance, at last,
to recover from cattle grazing.

Contact information for many newspapers can be found below.
And you can find plenty of information about the damage caused by
cattle grazing in the alps at www.cowpaddock.com

The Age
c/o Letters Editor
250 Spencer St. Melb. 3000
Email: letters@theage.com.au
Fax: 9601 2414

Herald Sun
C/o Letters Editor
PO Box 14631 Melb. 8001
Email: hsletters@heraldsun.com.au
Fax: 9292 2944

I only copied two of the newspaper references – there’s a shitload of ’em.

If you’re not familiar with the why of it, look here or here. A few graziers are trying to claim that their lifestyle (including the right to graze cattle in the alps) is Heritage and should be Heritage protected. What bollocks. For one thing, their grazing fees are ridiculously cheap, and WE are picking up the tab for trying to repair the damage as well as the opportunity cost of the peppercorn grazing fees. This rort is used by corporate-style farmers as much as the little battler type. Also, what is it about the High Country culture that’s beloved in song, story and tourism? The horses, and the horsemanship, of course. No-one could give a stuff about the bloody cows. It’s all very well for the bushies to be lovable and colourful and Heritage-y and ride their horses down the main street in Drizabones etc etc, but if they drove the herds of cows there, I think the public reaction might be a bit different. (Pamplona, anyone?!)

AND it affects waterways and water quality. Something much more urgent today than in Banjo Paterson’s time. It’s really a no brainer, unless you profit from it of course.

…Why do those cows have no udders? Well of course. They’re boy cows! Duh. Silly me.

(Update, 23/2: See Fafblog‘s picture of the week.) Tell me that’s a coincidence.