All six candidates contesting the seat of Monaro in the NSW Election gathered in Jindabyne on Friday night for a Q&A with the community hosted by the Jindabyne Chamber of Commerce.
The night dealt with climate change, rural land management, infrastructure, local government mergers, and pressures within the local tourist industry but it was the management of Brumbies within Kosziusko National Park that seemed to be of particular interest to those gathered and the wider community since.
Labor’s Bryce Wilson acknowledged that some are uncomfortable with his parties position.
“This is an area of passionate debate, I encourage you to Google Labor’s six-point plan for managing wild horses in the Kosciuszko National Park, we are not managing the situation [feral pests] now, we have actually frozen or removed resources from National Parks – we need to put those resources back,” he says.
“I do note that our plan also includes, and some people aren’t happy with this, an element of cultural significance and recognising the place of the Brumby in our national story – but a balanced approach.
“We have also ruled out aerial culling, but the reason we will repeal the bill if elected is that Clause 12 of the act [Brumbies Bill] overrides the National Parks Act – that would be an anathema to environmental protection.”
Member for Monaro and Nationals Leader, John Barilaro says the Brumby Bill that passed parliament last year “ends the war.”
“The Bill doesn’t trump the plan of management, it doesn’t trump the act, what it puts in place for the first time is all stakeholders at the table, where we all agree that we need a 50% reduction [in Brumby numbers] immediately – we haven’t achieved that in decades,” he says.
Mr Barilaro says nominations for the Brumby advisory panel are currently open, with the aim of including a broader range of views and stakeholders then have been canvased before.
“We have been able to approve a bill that recognises the cultural connection, nothing more, nothing less.
“We get on with the plan of management once the advisory committee is assembled and then we get on with the reduction immediately – to try and aim for 50% reduction.”
Mr Barilaro pointed to around 600 horses being allowed to remain in less sensitive areas of the national park under the Government’s approach, “like Labor and the scientists who agree with about 600 horses.”
The comments from Mr Barilario, aligning the government to the 2016 Draft Kosciuszko Draft Wild Horse Management Plan have been met with surprise and skepticism by Kosciuszko advocates.
Comments from other candidates include:
“I’d argue the dingo has a far more superior cultural attachment to the area and yet the poor thing is baited, hunted and shot,” says Andrew Thaler, Independent.
“We haven’t finished this argument, we haven’t settled it.”
Mick Holten, from the Farmers, Shooters, Fishers Party, “If Parks were properly resourced and doing their job from the get-go, we wouldn’t have this problem.”
“I can’t support repealing the bill.
“Is this a horse problem or is this a numbers problem?”
Frankie Seymour, Animal Justice Party, “We will never agree that killing is a solution to anything.”
“If there is a problem with an animal in the wrong place, fertility control is the only moral solution.”
Peter Marshall, Greens candidate, “Horses have their place, their place is not a national park.”
“The Brumby Bill is symbolic of this government’s absolute neglect and disregard for the environment.
“They have cut National Parks funding, you need to have staff on the ground.
“Zero horses have been removed from the park in 2018 – that’s the effect of the Brumby Bill.”
March 23 will decide the future management of Brumbies in the Australian Alps and along with it the conservation approach to a number of endangered native species whose existence is threatened by wild horses. Read more on the Liberal-Nationals position HERE ready more on Labor’s policy HERE.
Whatever happens, the passion on both sides of this debate suggests that Andrew Thaler’s comment on Friday night is perhaps the only one sure thing, “We haven’t finished this argument, we haven’t settled it.”
#Region Media’s Ian Campbell acted as facilitator of this event.