National park locked up from Springsure cattle producers
FOR more than 40 years the Mayne family has been the custodian of about 20,000ha in Carnarvon National Park, which borders their Springsure property Goathlands.
With his son Straun, daughter-in-law Hanna and their two boys Bill, 18 months, and Eli, 3, Peter Mayne has run the organically certified 1700-head cattle property and managed their pocket of the bordering Carnarvon National Park as if it were their own.
Despite their proven track record and certifications including an alignment with the Global Animal Partnership, the State Government has not renewed the Mayne family's lease, off the back of the ALP Government's blanket election promise to "lock up national parks".
In April last year the family received a letter stating that their 40-year lease would not be renewed.
"Our first thoughts were 'what do we do from here?' How can we change their minds?" Straun said.
"We thought surely if we explained to them that we are taking care of the land that common sense would prevail."
The Mayne family bought Goathlands in 1973, as a 36,000ha block of land.
Peter's father, John, entered into a lease agreement with State Government after it resumed close to 20,000ha in 1975 for Carnarvon National Park.
The 10,000ha was zoned Grazing Homestead Perpetual Lease, and while there was no compensation offered the state allowed the Maynes to lease the resumed land.
For the past 40 years the Maynes have used the extra land to graze about 500 of their 1700-head herd during the dry months to spell their lower-lying pasture.
Gregory MP Lachlan Millar said Labor's approach was one of double-standards.
"Their light, rotational grazing for three to four months a year ensures adequate ground cover while reducing hazardous fire fuel load. Plus they manage feral pests and weeds at no cost to taxpayers," Mr Millar said.
"In the modern world we shouldn't see landholders as the enemy to conservation," he said.
The decision to not renew these leases comes under the Nature Conservation and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2015, introduced by Minister Stephen Miles in October last year.
The first objective of the bill is that it "reinstates 'the conservation of nature' as the sole object of the Nature Conservation Act 1992 so that the preservation of the natural condition of national parks will take precedence over other objectives".
"This bill will remove the capacity for the department to innovate in this partner- ship space and it will leave Queensland the poorer."
Peter went before the Agriculture and Environment Commitee in December to state his case.
Straun said if "those behind their desks" would allow them a debate, he would put their fears to rest.
"You get the impression that they think we're out to damage the environment when it's in our best interests to run it as sustainably as we can - it's our future, our children's future," he said.
"We're not saying let everyone in, we're saying there needs to be discretion."
Mr Millar said the Maynes had not seen a national park ranger in several years and Straun reiterated that in 40 years the family had never been offered help fighting bushfires started by lightning in the park.
"There is no road into the national park so rangers will have to cross our property to access it, which will put our organic certification at risk unless we enforce compliance on the rangers," Straun said.
"It makes it unsafe for us if we can't annually manage the fire breaks and fuel load.
"If it gets to storm season and the lightning comes in on thick vegetation, it's very difficult to control."
Without intervention to stop the bill, Straun and his family would suffer financially.
"We can't keep the numbers we've got because the pasture would suffer, we will have to reduce our cattle numbers by up to 30%," he said.
"We'll survive, there are people worse off than us, we'll just have to tighten our belts is all."
To the Maynes the most frustrating part was that they had been given marching orders before a report on the bill had even been released.
Shadow Environment Minister Stephen Bennett said the State Government had decided grazing leases in parks would be axed, irrespective of the final report from Parliament's Agriculture and Environment Committee.
"Who wouldn't be suspicious given the Mayne family had been told their grazing lease over 20,000 hectares would not be renewed after March, yet Environment Minister Miles wrote to the local member stating he'd consider the lease once the Palaszczuk Labor Government's position on grazing in parks was confirmed," Mr Bennett said.
A Queensland Parks and Wildlife spokesperson said the government had committed to restoring the conservation "of nature as the object of the Nature Conservation Act 1992".
"In doing so to ensure that the protected area estate is managed in accordance with the cardinal principle of the Nature Conservation Act which is to provide for the permanent preservation of natural conditions, cultural resources and values to the greatest possible extent," he said. "Many of the leases which currently exist on the protected area estate are a transition arising from land use which existed at the time that a particular property became a protected lease.
"The lease provided opportunity for a gradual phase-out over time."
The spokesman said the seven rangers that covered the 298,000ha of Carnarvon National Park worked "closely" to manage the area.
"The management plan, approved in 2005 clearly says 'upon expiry' these leases will not be renewed."