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Horses In National Parks, A Discussion.

Discussion in 'Backcountry' started by Greybeard, Sep 10, 2018.

  1. Edgecrusher

    Edgecrusher Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    Perhaps Rhys and his firm consider this activity to be Business Development?
    I did check out the firm's website last week to check them out. I haven't come across them before and Rhys' post struck me as rather odd. I certainly wouldn't be posting stuff like that about matters that I was currently working on. Thinking about it a little further, I think there's some issues about the way in which Rhys and his firm are conducting themselves. I previously mentioned the Civil Procedure Act (CPA) issues. Here we have Rhys alluding to Phil's strategy - which was to file an application seeking an injunction, and to then file an appeal of that decision, with the purpose of stalling PV from shooting the feral horses. That could be considered as an abuse of process, or otherwise lacking a "proper basis".

    Section 42 of the CPA requires a legal practitioner representing a litigant to file a Proper Basis Certification, certifying that on the factual and legal material available to them:

    (a) each allegation of fact in the document has a proper basis;

    (b) each denial in the document has a proper basis;

    (c) there is a proper basis for each non-admission in the document.

    Meanwhile, section 18 of the CPA provides that:

    A person to whom the overarching obligations apply must not make any claim or make a response to any claim in a civil proceeding that—

    (a) is frivolous; or

    (b) is vexatious; or

    (c) is an abuse of process; or

    (d) does not, on the factual and legal material available to the person at the time of making the claim or responding to the claim, as the case requires, have a proper basis.

    The Court of Appeal found that Phil didn't even have standing. If Rhys and his firm knew of this lack of a proper basis, or otherwise used these applications simply to stall PV, and filed a Proper Basis Certification with the Court as part of the proceeding, then potentially Rhys and the firm could be in breach of their CPA obligations. The Court could order, pursuant to section 29 of the CPA, that Rhys and his firm pay some or all of PV's legal costs.

    Rhys' post could be interpreted as the firm knowing from the start that the purpose of the litigation was not to seek an injunction at all - it was to use the legal process as a means of stalling PV.
     
  2. skifree

    skifree A disciple of the blessed avi giraffe Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    I suspect the crowing about the stalling the PV planned actions is a saving of face set of comments from the Maguire camp.

    They may very well have thought they could win the appeal, committed folks are sometimes blind to the hopelessness of their position. But you would have thought good legal advice would have made an accurate assessment and provided appropriate advice. But based on the public comments from the Maguire camp over the last couple of months it is very reasonable to think they would have directed their legal team to proceed regardless.
     
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  3. Edgecrusher

    Edgecrusher Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    It's one thing for Maguire and his rowdy mob of supporters to talk themselves up about "winning".
    But for one of their lawyers to make those comments?
    If they knew that this application had little to no chance of success and was being used for an ulterior motive, then PV's lawyers should (if they're given the opportunity) be making costs submissions and bringing posts like Rhys' to the attention of the bench, which I note includes CJ Ferguson.
     
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  4. skifree

    skifree A disciple of the blessed avi giraffe Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    What is required as evidence for this?
     
  5. Edgecrusher

    Edgecrusher Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    As an outsider that has nothing to do with the case and hasn't seen the Orders or the judgment on the appeal, it's hard to say. But if the Court wants to hear from the parties as to the orders to be made as to costs, then usually written submissions are submitted by the parties (and perhaps oral arguments as well). An affidavit could well be sworn/affirmed by one of the lawyers acting for PV which could exhibit some of the Facebook posts being made. It's arguable that they are relevant matters which the Court should be made aware of in determining the costs orders that should be made.
     
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  6. Xplora

    Xplora One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    I don't see this company as being particularly professional and agree with your assessment. Making comments that Maguire is a master strategist just stinks of a desperate plea to squeeze money from people to fight his own personal war with Parks. I would describe Maguire a master manipulator as he has convinced 23K people he is doing something for the horses. So far there is no proof he has saved any except for a picture of 20 or so of his own horses on his property with a caption telling people they are Brumbies. They would be feral and were probably running in the park because he has no fences. I also think he should change his name again. This time his first name from Phil to 'Sue'. (Please no Johnny Cash clips). He has pulled that trigger again because someone commented about the money going directly into the Maguire account instead of the go fund me.
     
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  7. Edgecrusher

    Edgecrusher Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    I just came across this article from 2011:
    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-03-18/federal-minister-to-rule-on-mountain-cattle-grazing/2652482

    Bloke was grazing his cattle in the Alpine NP without any authority back then. Said as follows:

    "But Mr Maguire of Mount Bundarrah Station near Omeo, has told the Federal Government his cattle are also in the park, although he is not part of the study.

    He has challenged authorities to remove his herd and says he is happy to fight all the way to the High Court."

    So it's pretty easy to glean from this that Phil just wants to do what Phil wishes, and if anyone takes issue with him doing so, he'll litigate.

    Even better - back in 2007 he was threatening same!

    https://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2007-01-10/cattleman-defies-alpine-grazing-ban/2169244?pfmredir=sm

    Anyhow, here's the full judgement from the Court of Appeal if you're after some nighttime reading:
    http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdoc/au/cases/vic/VSCA//2020/172.html
     
    #957 Edgecrusher, Jun 25, 2020
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2020
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  8. Wally

    Wally One of Us Ski Pass: Gold Ski Pass: Silver

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    Jeez, I just watched a YouTube video from Bill Tilley MP. What utter BS! Half the footage was from HPs property and by the looks of the horses in the video they are all local valley horses.
     
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  9. dawooduck

    dawooduck relaxed and comfortable Ski Pass: Gold

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  10. Legs Akimbo

    Legs Akimbo Grumblebum Ski Pass: Gold

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    An email from Ramshead in his new gig

    To everyone who donated to our ongoing campaign to help save Kosciuszko National Park.

    Thank you.

    Thank you from the Corroboree frogs, whose precious sphagnum bogs and wetlands are being trampled by 80 thousand hooves (that’s 20,000 horses x 4!)

    Thank you from the stocky galaxias, who for now, still have an alpine stream in which to breed and swim.

    Thank you from the broad-toothed rat, whose ground cover in the snow grass is being decimated by equine grazing machines.

    Thank you from every plant and animal in the unique Australian High Country, a landscape we all love, a place so precious it would be a national tragedy if it degraded further.

    And thank you from a thirsty hiker. That would be me.

    For your info, my name is Anthony (Ant) Sharwood and I’ve just joined the Reclaim Kosci team. I’ve been a journalist for almost 20 years in television, print and online. Over the next few months, I’ll be using my extensive media contacts to ensure, wherever possible, that Reclaim Kosci gets its message out there in the strongest possible way.

    But my most important qualification for this job is that I’m a skier, hiker, and lover of the Aussie High Country. I’ve even just written a book about my trek on the Australian Alps Walking Track which will be published in August.

    Little story about that hike.

    On December 21 last year, 10 days before fires swept through a third of Kosciuszko, I was walking from Victoria through to the border at Cowombat Flat.

    In the heart of a relentlessly dry summer, my water bottles were bone dry by mid-morning, and none of the creeks marked on the map held water. Even the sphagnum moss was so parched it couldn’t be squeezed for so much as a drop.

    I can’t tell you how much I was looking forward to a long, cool drink from the infant Murray River (called the Indi by locals) at Cowombat Flat. Eventually, with a mouth so dry it was hard to talk and a screaming headache from dehydration, I reached Cowombat.

    What I found was both shocking and distressing. The Murray was nothing more than a series of filthy puddles fouled by feral horse poo. To fill my bottles, I had to walk a long way downstream on exhausted legs to find a spot where the river (really just a tiny creek) cascaded over rocks and the water was drinkable.

    I added three purification pills to each bottle and waited an hour for them to take effect. Have 3,600 seconds ever ticked by more slowly?

    In a sense, every second, every minute, every hour, every day, is crucial for Kosciuszko now. But this clock is ticking fast. We simply have to fight the incursion of these feral menaces to the pristine alpine landscape. For our sake. For the sake of the alpine fauna and flora. For Kosci’s sake.

    With your help, we’re doing our best. So thanks again to all of you who support Reclaim Kosci. Please feel free to get in touch with me personally or any of the Reclaim Kosci team any time.

    And if you haven’t yet contributed and would like to do so, you can donate here.

    Thank you.

    Anthony Sharwood

    Campaigner, journalist, author and Kosci lover



    --


    Anthony Sharwood

    Campaigner



    E anthonysharwood@reclaimkosci.org.au

    W reclaimkosci.org.au

    Socials @antsharwood
     
  11. Undies

    Undies Pizza! Ski Pass: Gold

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    Great stuff @Ramshead !

    Donation sent to reclaim kosci as well.

    Looking forward to the book!
     
  12. skifree

    skifree A disciple of the blessed avi giraffe Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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  13. Ramshead

    Ramshead One of Us

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    Onya mate.

    I am on unfamiliar ground in this new job. As a journo I’m used to coming off the long rum and bowling like Mitchell Johnson. If you spray a few in the name of taking wickets, so be it.

    This is the first time I’ve worked with an NGO. Processes. Processes. But I am doing my best and hope in coming weeks to change the tone of our communications to something a little more cut-through. May fail but I’ll try!

    cheers
     
  14. Ramshead

    Ramshead One of Us

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  15. Undies

    Undies Pizza! Ski Pass: Gold

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    Great stuff. And a massive thanks for taking it on!

    Right now the pro-feral mouthpiece is cutting through and driving the narrative. You can see it on the FB comments, with FB rating the pro-feral posts as being "most relevant" because they get more likes. But we can all do our bit to spread the word and help show the support for doing the right thing.

    Thanks, Ant!
     
  16. Xplora

    Xplora One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Peter Roper is a cattle farmer. Now think about his heritage. Roper's are famous on the BHP. Maguire is stuck into Ricky French again so expect some vitriol to come your way also.
    You will never change the mindset of the people on the RR page but you can work on the vast majority who have not really engaged in this fight. You will also never win the fight by trying to convince people with science. People will only change (or get involved) when they feel emotionally attached to the situation or it will affect them personally.
     
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  17. Ramshead

    Ramshead One of Us

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    These are unbelievably wise words and sum up perfectly what I knew before taking this job and what I know even more after a week in the job. My challenge is to develop a media strategy that swings the tide of emotion behind Kosciuszko, not horses. I have ideas!
     
  18. Ramshead

    Ramshead One of Us

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    Also @Xplora for your excellent post u win this pic of Ropers I took in December. Had the place to myself!

     
  19. dawooduck

    dawooduck relaxed and comfortable Ski Pass: Gold

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    His views are majority views outside of the small "Cattlemen of the High Country" cohort, alas it's a fairly silent minority with a tendency to vote LNP.

    Brumby noise is predominantly Facebook social media noise generated primarily by urban and urban fringe "horse lovers" and so called "animal rights" and "every creature deserves to live" groups.

    Countering that noise is the challenge.
     
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  20. skifree

    skifree A disciple of the blessed avi giraffe Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    They can vote for who they like, there’s only one topic I’d like to see / hear more of and that’s support for total feral control and eradication.
     
  21. dawooduck

    dawooduck relaxed and comfortable Ski Pass: Gold

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    Excellent. LNP voter posters are popping up around the Jindy District and I am racking my brain on how to turn them into anti feral horse posters.

    "A vote for Fiona is a vote for environmental destruction" sticker right across the poster might do the trick.

    Are you talking with the Lock the Gate people @Ramshead, they have a wealth of activism experience in the farming community.
     
  22. Ramshead

    Ramshead One of Us

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    I am talking to anyone and everyone I can and I’d love to talk to you too mate! You around in Jindy this week? I’m going to be buzzing around pre poll booths in Eden Monaro a bit this week. Maybe PM me if you’re available
     
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  23. MisterMxyzptlk

    MisterMxyzptlk Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Having seen the power of SM groups in many facets of life I'm starting to believe the challenge is ignoring it
     
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  24. dawooduck

    dawooduck relaxed and comfortable Ski Pass: Gold

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    I am always around. Wed and Sunday are my days off.
     
  25. Ramshead

    Ramshead One of Us

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    Righto I’ll PM ya if I’m in town wed
     
  26. dawooduck

    dawooduck relaxed and comfortable Ski Pass: Gold

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    :thumbs:
     
  27. Myazma

    Myazma One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Say hi, I'll be working pre poll at the Jindi sport and rec wed
     
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  28. Nicko4334

    Nicko4334 Hard Yards

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  29. Edgecrusher

    Edgecrusher Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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  30. crackson

    crackson A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    You all need to go sit on Mt Terrible for a bit and relax.
     
  31. Ramshead

    Ramshead One of Us

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    No paywall
    Top of Form

    A debate gone feral

    In the NSW high country, the battle over brumbies in the national park goes beyond environmental arguments — it’s a culture war.

    By RICKY FRENCH

    [​IMG]Brumby numbers are soaring in Kosciuszko National Park. Picture: Jason Edward

    • From The Weekend Australian Magazine
    February 15, 2019

    • 18 MINUTE READ
    155

    The ute pulls up behind me with its engine running. Should I stop or should I run? All around, snow thickly blankets the tussocky hills around Adaminaby in the Snowy Mountains. The headlights gouge twin portals through the fog and the gravel cracks under my feet like ice. Soon the vehicle gets going and the driver gives a friendly wave; I feel ashamed of my fleeting paranoia.

    They are warm people, the locals I meet in the NSW high country, but emotions run hot when talk turns to the brumbies, the feral horses that roam the alps. A prominent parks ranger received death threats and his children were targeted when the NSW Government released its 2016 plan to reduce the number of brumbies in Kosciuszko National Park to 600 by culling over 20 years. He wasn’t the only one. Some farmers in favour of horse control will talk to me only if I agree not to use their name, such is the fear of retribution. One has had security cameras installed at his place; he was advised by police to keep his mouth shut and watch his back. With these stories ringing in my ears, I watch the ute drive off into the darkness.

    Later, I sit with the locals at the Snow Goose Hotel, trying to understand this long, impassioned tussle over the fate of the brumbies. Knowledge of the land here doesn’t come from city scientists, it’s not taught in schools; it’s passed down through generations. Over the course of the evening I interview the entire pub and receive a unanimous response to the most provocative question in town: what should we do about the brumbies?

    READ NEXT

    · [​IMG]

    VIRUS PANIC

    Melbourne coronavirus game-changer

    ANTHONY PIOVESAN

    What to do about the upwards of 7000 feral horses in the national park — breeding up in good times, starving to death in bad, wreaking documented devastation on fragile waterways and native species — is more than an animal management question. It’s more than an environmental or scientific or animal welfare issue. It cuts to the heart of cultural identity in the Snowy Mountains.

    For a group of passionate horse lovers, the horses can’t put a hoof wrong. Their voices are loud, mobilising on social media to vehemently oppose any attack on the brumby and obfuscate any damning scientific evidence. But for others, the brumbies are symbolic of a bitter land dispute, one that was supposed to have been resolved in the late 1960s when the last cattle were removed from the newly minted Kosciuszko National Park. Many grazing families are still not prepared to relinquish this high-country holy land. In a perceived war with greenies and city scientists, the brumbies are the last remaining link to a mythologised past. They’re the symbol of the resistance.

    It’s Australian culture told in two tours. Two stories of personal identity, two versions of history. Richard Swain is a Gurindji man who works as a river guide on the Snowy River. His father worked on rehabilitating the main range after cattle were removed, a painstaking project known as “thatching the roof of Australia”. To Swain, the brumby is also a symbol of cultural identity, but it’s an ugly one. “This issue is the story of Australia,” he says as we descend in a four-wheel-drive into one of the most remote areas of Kosciuszko National Park, where Swain’s business Alpine River Adventures runs paddling tours in the Byadbo Wilderness area. “It’s not about horses, it’s about country.”

    [​IMG]River guide Richard Swain. Picture: Ricky French

    Park rangers routinely carry out aerial culls of feral deer and pigs here but can’t touch the horses; there’s been a moratorium on equine aerial culling in NSW national parks since 2000. They’re now the most common animal Swain’s clients see. The worst of the horse damage is in an area known as The Pinch: entire reed beds of native grass are gone, every seed head chewed off. “This used to be a corridor of reeds,” says Swain, “and it’s been decimated. This is meant to be a native ecosystem, remember?”

    He looks downstream as two wild horses thrash through the river and clamber up a bank, hoofs slipping on the wet rocks. Every few hundred metres there’s another mob, plus numerous horse carcasses rotting in the sun. The air is thick with the stench of horse manure and decaying flesh. Swain says he can’t lie to his clients and tell them they’re in a pristine wilderness area. Death of a river guide’s river. “I feel like the Great Barrier Reef guide whose licensed area is the bleached bit,” he says. “We chose to protect this land, to let it recover. We chose to protect it for what natural values it had. Apparently it’s unAustralian to not want a European animal trashing the land.”

    [​IMG]Peter Cochran. Picture: Ricky French

    Former Nationals MP Peter Cochran sees the country with a different set of eyes, tells a different story of Australia to the clients of his business, Cochran Horse Treks. It’s here on the flat expanse of the Currango Plains where you’ll find the highest concentration of feral horses. In this northern area of the national park no horses have been removed since August 2017. Some, like the handsome white stallion Paleface frequently spotted near Kiandra, have names and a cult following. Cochran’s clients sit around the campfire and hear stories from the pioneering days of the graziers, farmers and musterers who once had the run of this land, who roped brumbies, built mountain huts and spun yarns for entertainment. Men who eked out an existence in a cold, unforgiving pocket of Australia. “We talk about the original settlers and pioneers who brought horses from South Africa and India; about how the horse was fundamental to almost every facet of life in those early days of settlement,” says Cochran. “The cultural connection between horses and the park is part of Australian history. The Man From Snowy River is a reality.”

    Back at the Snow Goose, Cochran leans back, removes his Akubra and places it on the table. His fingers are thick and weathered, crosshatched with grooves. Some people say his great grandfather, Lachlan Cochran, was the inspiration for Banjo Paterson’s The Man From Snowy River. He was buried in the cemetery at old Adaminaby alongside another contender for the title, Charlie McKeahnie, before the entire town was displaced by the hydro-electric scheme in 1957 and relocated to the site where the Snow Goose sits today. The Cochran family has lived just up the road in the Yaouk valley since 1838.

    “It’s a bigger picture than the brumbies,” Cochran concedes. “It goes back to the way people were treated when they were kicked off the high country. There’s an ingrained anger there that I don’t think will ever be shifted. Loss of cultural identity is one of the greatest threats in the bush. You don’t have to be black to have a spiritual connection to the land.”

    Uphill from Adaminaby is the national park, anddownhill is Cooma, where Mike Patton runs a fishing tackle shop. He’s been active on social media supporting the brumbies’ right to stay and is one of a vocal group in the Snowies who feel dismissed, devalued, scorned and ignored by decision-makers. For people like Patton, the so-called “brumby bill” — a NSW law passed last year that quashes the 2016 culling plan and protects an unspecified number of feral horses in Kosciuszko National Park — is a big win. It sticks it to the elites.

    “My grandad lived up the Pinch River, my mum was born in old Jindabyne town,” Patton says. “It’s all about culture and heritage around here, and we’re getting people coming from the city who want to ruin our heritage, who want to wipe the brumby out.” Patton says he doesn’t trust parks, doesn’t trust government; no one round here does. “Mate,” he says. “We’re just peasants to them.”

    “The thing is,” says Don Driscoll, professor of terrestrial ecology at Deakin University, “this whole horse issue, it’s not actually about horses.” Driscoll has led the scientific charge against feral horses since he went for a bushwalk in Kosciuszko in 2014 and saw starving horses gnawing at the grass-filled intestines of a dead companion. “This is about as bleak as it’s been,” he sighs. “I’ve got better things to do with my research time than trying to demonstrate that horses are impacting native species, because it’s bleeding obvious. There’s something else going on. There must be.”

    [​IMG]Middle ground is increasingly becoming no man’s land in the brumby debate. Picture: Jason Edwards

    He brings up a screenshot of an anonymous comment on an article he wrote about feral horses last year. “This might reveal something,” he says. It reads: You are completely misreading the issue. The brumbies symbolise a group of people and their way of life. Their land, their place, their dreaming if you will. They were pushed off their land in the 1950s, but they haven’t forgotten. You choose to diminish all that, to trivialise it, to pour scorn on them because “science” allows you to. Anyone who disagrees with you is labelled a loony, an idiot, a yokel, a dribbler, a troll. There is still resentment over the very existence of Kosciuszko National Park! By eliminating the brumbies you are reaching into someone’s soul and shitting on it.

    “There are people holding these grudges,” says Driscoll, “who think this [brumby bill] is a way to get revenge. It’s vindictiveness. Possibly worse, though, is it could be a strategy to get cattle back in.”

    The heritage horse becomes the Trojan horse.

    The battle has become heated since local Monaro MP and NSW deputy premier John Barilaro introduced new laws last June that formally recognise the cultural and historical significance of the park’s wild horses. An aghast scientific community interpreted the brumby bill (formal title: the Kosciuszko Wild Horse Heritage Bill) as prioritising a destructive feral animal over native species. If the new horse management plan introduced by the bill comes into conflict with any other plan that protects native species, then according to law the horse plan must prevail.

    The problem NSW now grapples with as its high country population of feral horses soars is that the neighbours are peering over the fence, seeing an unkempt yard and are concerned the whole street will suffer. In the bordering national parks of the ACT the feral horse number is much lower. It’s zero. “We have a zero-tolerance policy for horses in our water catchments,” says ACT Parks and Conservation manager Brett McNamara, “and have a very strong policy on lethal control.” This includes shooting horses, although eternal vigilance means these days it’s rarely needed. “NSW legislation that protects a large feral animal within a conservation reserve is a real concern for the ACT. I’m yet to meet a feral horse that recognises a political border.” McNamara says the ACT public has accepted that horses don’t belong in national parks and there has been little opposition to lethal control.

    Victoria is also worried, not least because horse supporters, buoyed by the success of their NSW counterparts, are now claiming heritage value for horses in Victoria’s Alpine National Park. In December, a group called the Australian Brumby Alliance applied to the Federal Court for an injunction to stop the planned removal by Parks Victoria of about 100 feral horses on the Bogong High Plains. Victoria wants to rehome or shoot within trap-yards up to 400 horses a year (of an estimated 2500) in the eastern alps — along with all of the much smaller Bogong High Plains population. The plan is considered weak by some ecologists, while feral horse supporters say it goes too far. Middle ground is increasingly becoming no man’s land.

    Opponents of the NSW law hope to make it an election issue come March, and the NSW Labor Party has vowed to repeal the legislation. But they face a formidable hurdle: convincing the general population to turn on this lovable icon. It’s known as the “problematic charismatic”, a pest animal we can’t stomach the thought of culling because it’s beautiful, or because it’s ingrained in our psyche, or both. With the brumbies it goes further: they’ve been roaming the Australian alps for almost 200 years; they’re part of the Australian identity, immortalised in poetry, books, movies.

    Barilaro acknowledges they are a part of the cultural fabric of the high country, while at the same time conceding there are too many horses in the park. He wants to see the number reduced by roughly half, but he draws the line at shooting. His preferred method is trapping and relocating horses to other areas of the park, with the next best option being rehoming them outside the park. But with numbers increasing by about 20 per cent a year, and trapping failing to control numbers in the past, rehoming as a means of population control has become a pipedream. Fertility control is also impractical, veterinarians say.

    Barilaro now concedes any horses trapped under the new legislation might ultimately end up being shipped off to the abattoir. The RSPCA, once opposed to aerial culling, now supports it as a more humane measure than trapping and transporting to abattoirs.

    Even with the blessing of the RSPCA, scientists wanting to turn the story around to focus on native animals face an uphill battle. “We’ve failed to communicate what it is we’re trying to protect,” says Parks Victoria chief scientist Mark Norman. “We should love Australian bush and Australian wildlife. It’s found nowhere else in the world and we should be championing it.” But where’s the charisma? “I probably wish alpine spiny crayfish and broad-toothed rats were a bit prettier,” he sighs.

    [​IMG]Brumby numbers are soaring in Kosciuszko National Park. Picture: Jason Edwards

    It can’t be about horses. If it was, the horses would be gone tomorrow, says Dr Dick Williams, retired alpine ecologist from Charles Darwin University. “Anyone with half a brain could take a look at the evidence and come to that conclusion, but some people are immune to evidence.”

    Feral horses were recently declared a “key threatening process” by the NSW Threatened Species Scientific Committee, a state government body. And in November, the abstracts of 21 peer-reviewed papers detailing the horses’ impact on native species were presented at the Australian Academy of Science’s Kosciuszko Science Conference in Canberra. Some attendees lamented the demise of respect for scientific endeavour in this post-truth age when scientific findings are treated as just another opinion. “Scientists base their careers and reputations on getting things right. The attack on science is insidious,” says Williams.

    You can get an understanding of the damage horses do, Williams says, simply by replacing the word “cow” with “horse”. For 135 years cattle grazing was permitted in summer under a lease system, before being phased out over two decades leading up to 1969 — a move driven by the need to have a clean water supply for the Snowy Hydro Scheme’s turbines. Soil erosion was threatening to overwhelm the dams with sediment. With the cattle gone, the alpine area of the newly formed Kosciuszko National Park was slowly rehabilitated as a haven for native ecosystems.

    While Williams says it doesn’t take a genius to work out that horses are repeating the damage wrought by grazing, the geniuses gathered in Canberra said it anyway. But did their message resonate? “Science is fairly conservative in how it tells stories,” says Williams. “We use evidence and numbers. We stand on authority: Listen to us, we know. The brumby mob has a great story — myths and legends, men from Snowy River — but their excursions into science and management… it’s denialism.”

    La Trobe University academic Deirdre Slattery, author of The Kosciuszko Primitive Area Dispute of 1958-65, has noticed a shift in some attitudes towards feral horses. “Traditionally, graziers found them a despised nuisance,” she says. “They were shot, had their throats cut, were taken to abattoirs or left to rot in the bush. That’s because they were a threat to grazing land. Today brumbies don’t wreck good grazing land, they just wreck national parks — which is not the landowners’ problem, nor is it the problem of the brumby advocates. The brumby has only been a problem when it impacts economically, not environmentally.”

    The corroboree frog, the mountain pygmy-possum, the broad-toothed rat and the alpine water skink all got a good hearing at the science conference, but no one mentioned the elephant in the room: the voters of Monaro, and the unanimous results of the Snow Goose poll. Leave the brumbies alone, they said. Get the cattle back in.

    Horse trek operator Peter Cochran is their voice. A donor to the National Party, the former Monaro MP still holds sway for any candidate seeking preselection. Last year Cochran famously bragged on social media that he and his solicitor drafted the brumby bill for Barilaro. (The deputy premier insists proper government processes were followed.) Cochran makes no apologies about any conflict of interest. “So what if I gain a financial benefit? That’s what makes the world go round. Why wouldn’t you do it? There are people paying their taxes and employing people and you want to persuade government to go in a certain direction. I really don’t see the issue.”

    Cochran sits at the Snow Goose but doesn’t drink. He gave up the booze and the smokes 35 years ago; says he saw the damage they did. But he says that’s nothing compared to the damage heaped upon grazing families in the ’50s and ’60s. “When the Snowy Hydro Scheme came along and the resumption of the land [for the national park] took place it was devastating to people who were losing an entire culture,” he says. As for the science detailing the destruction wrought by the brumbies, Cochran simply rejects it. Fake news. “These scientists are politically motivated. I reject the science because I don’t trust the scientists. Nobody does.”

    The brumby bill will see a community advisory panel set up to advise the environment minister on a new feral horse management plan and “identify the heritage value of sustainable wild horse populations within identified parts of the park and set out how that heritage value will be protected…” When the panel is selected many assume Cochran will be on it. He scoffs at the suggestion. “No money in the world would get me on that panel!” He closes his diary and picks up his hat to go. “Unless of course I’m requested to.”

    Soon after, Cochran confirmed on social media that he has nominated for the panel.

    Around the corner from Cochran’s camp is Currango Homestead, where Ian Dunn, president of Friends of Currango, has been coming since 1968. We walk along Currango Creek, where in the middle of the creek a horse has died while foaling. We count more than 250 horses moving through the plains; a recent aerial survey spotted more than 900. The watercourse is a turgid drain. “This creek used to be clear water, full of native weeds. You’d walk along here in summer and take a big gulp, splash another handful under your hat. You’d fish here all day and nearly always see a platypus. It was just a magical spot. Now, no human would touch this water.”

    At the head of the valley where the creek starts is Currango Swamp. Years ago Dunn would sit here and watch waders stalk through the reeds, then throw a fishing line into the deep creek, thick with green, clammy weeds. Today the swamp is a barren paddock, hoof prints pockmarking the grass, pugging the soil, squeezing the moisture from the ground the way you wring water from a sponge. Dunn turns and starts the long, hot walk back to the homestead. “Currango Creek is dead.”

    Dr Rob Dyball, a lecturer in human ecology at the Australian National University, brings students to the Snowy Mountains to learn about cultural conflict and battle for resources in this heartland of identity politics. “This is a hotly contested area. All these groups love the high country, it’s in their psyche. Nobody’s trying to trash the place, they think they’re doing the right thing. But it’s unquestionably true that the horses are trashing the place, the same way that the cattle were, so you can’t agree to meet halfway on this.” The grievances are bundled up, Dyball says, in a sense of identity, of past wrongs, people who lost their snow leases, lost access to grandad’s old mountain hut, and now the man from Sydney is coming in to tell them they’re taking the brumbies, too.

    “The people who are passionate about the horses are actually quite a small group. But they’re cultivating support from the middle ground, from people who don’t really care much about horses but who are sympathetic to claims of localism and poor treatment, particularly at the hands of city folk.” I thought back to Mike Patton’s words at his fishing shop: We’re just peasants to them.

    Tom, a Monaro grazier, sits on a rock beside a creek on his property, looking across to the national park. “We have to make a living here, but we also have to protect that park for our grandchildren. The people who got this brumby bill up found a moment in time. Everything lined up for them. They found a deputy premier whose values aren’t environmental, and saw a moment to strike, when the environment minister wasn’t looking and didn’t care. And I have to congratulate them. Politics has gone a bit funny in this country. Very small groups are able to apply pressure at the right time and bingo, you’ve got yourself a feral horse protection bill.”

    It takes three days paddling through the Byadbo Wilderness to get to the last site Richard Swain wants me to see. We pull our canoes out of the water and walk for a few minutes up a side creek to an ancient meeting place. He lights gum leaves, wafts the smoke over our bodies and claps two sticks together — once, twice, announcing to ancestors our arrival on this sacred site. He scours the dirt and picks up stones, then replaces them where he found them, where they’ve sat for thousands of years. Hammer stones, flints, cutting tools.

    Since European arrival the once rich topsoil has gone. Cattle came, then rabbits, now horses. The artefacts Swain finds are covered and surrounded by piles of horse manure, some of the piles a metre high. As far as metaphors go it’s hardly subtle. “Sorry about all the heritage poo,” he drolly remarks. The river guide returns to his river, where trees bearing ancient scars from the cutting of bark canoes lead him to his own boat, to finish the journey downstream. “I feel sick. But I’m standing up for my country. I’m standing in my lore. The country talks to me, and it’s crying. It’s asking for help.”

    Canoes stored, our car climbs from the deep gorges of the Snowy River, hugging a twisting track. A view opens up to the Pinch River below, where on a small island stands a solitary horse. Ribs ripple across a satin coat. The iconic Australian brumby. A strange apparition in the riverbed, one of half a million feral horses on the continent, it looks lost, like a vanquished spirit; like it doesn’t want to be there. It looks like the last horse on Earth.
     
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  32. Ramshead

    Ramshead One of Us

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  33. Edgecrusher

    Edgecrusher Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    Thanks for posting :thumbs:
     
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  34. Edgecrusher

    Edgecrusher Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    This comment from the article really encapsulates the pro-feral horse mob:

    "“It’s all about culture and heritage around here, and we’re getting people coming from the city who want to ruin our heritage, who want to wipe the brumby out.”

    What these short-sighted people are forgetting, however, is that the high country existed long before these people clinging to its so-called "heritage values" were born. Well before their ancestors whose links to that land arrived here too. And the high country will exist long after they die too, and their offspring. The most important question though is what condition and health will that land be in 50 or 100 years from now? Will it be irreparably damaged because a group of people preferred their own self-interests and their tenuous links to a history and a heritage, which they believe is worth protecting more than the land and its native plants and animals which live there, and are so important to much of Australia?

    Hell, we used to hunt whales many decades ago as well. But most people are sufficiently bright to understand that after hunting them to the brink of extinction we needed to stop. There was a history and a heritage of whaling too. Times change, as do people's practices.
     
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  35. zapruda

    zapruda One of Us

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    I wonder about the indigenous heritage that Mike Patton's grandfather helped wipe out when he came riding along the Pinch all those years ago... The hypocrisy is ceaseless.
     
  36. Edgecrusher

    Edgecrusher Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    Absolutely.
    Patton runs a fishing tackle shop, as described in the article, no?
    So his business is somewhat dependent on the health of the local fisheries? Perhaps he even dabbles in a little fishing himself, I dunno. Maybe I'm reading a bit too much into it. But that'd be my take. Getting rid of the horses would help with that.
     
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  37. zapruda

    zapruda One of Us

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  38. Edgecrusher

    Edgecrusher Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    The history, the heritage, the culture...but what about rabbits? Many of us trapped and shot them, or went ferreting. Should we pass legislation to protect that heritage too? Make sure there’s plenty more around for us to continue doing so?

    “Australia’s fraught relationship with this mostly accursed, often sustaining, sometimes adorable little mammal wavers, even today. Most of us grow up with rabbits: bedtime stories, cartoons, Easter bunnies, cute pets and cuddly toys endear them to us. At the same time, they continue to inflict devastation on our land, which threatens livestock and endangers native plant and animal species. This introduced pest has wreaked more damage on the Australian environment than any other.

    Rabbits nonetheless have proved a godsend in times of need. They’ve also done their bit for the economy. In 1949, export sales of wild rabbit meat topped that of our traditional stalwart, mutton.”

    https://www.australiangeographic.com.au/topics/wildlife/2011/02/rabbits-from-pest-to-plate/

    Those Akubras, after all, are made from...
     
  39. Edgecrusher

    Edgecrusher Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    And I love that at the centre of that article they have Phil. What a delightful man he is. Wouldn’t you just love to have a beer with him?



    Anyone know someone out there that’s a leftist Nazi?
     
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  40. Greysrigging

    Greysrigging One of Us

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    Loath as I am to comment on issues 4000klm from home, may I say..... I sorta 'get' the love for cute cuddly feral critters, horses, deer etc. Where is the love for foxes, cane toads, feral cats, pigs, water buffalo,donkeys, wild dogs ( including 'native' dingos ), sparrows, starlings, Indian mynas, pigeons, rabbits and the like ?
    Unpalatable as it is to some folk, introduced pest species need to be controlled and perhaps eradicated. Takes big cojons by Governments and Government Departments to do so in the modern litigious, social media world.
    The Northern Territory culls feral horses, donkeys, pigs and buffalo from the air with nary a concern from the general populace, southern media, or any other ( un ) interested party.
    Why ? ( rhetorical of course ).
    Because it has to happen... and the fact of a population of 250k in relation to a land mass of 1.421 million klm squared ( that is substantially larger than NSW and Vic combined ) means that opposition ( if any ) is somewhat minuscule ).
    I worked out along the Victoria Highway ( 600klm west of Darwin ) late last year, and frequently skull dragged donkey carcass' off the road before dawn, that had been cleaned up by overnight road trains. Big bastards that were/are a hazard to the motorist.
    The cuddly critters are emotive...... I worked in an outback abattoir in North Queensland 40 odd years ago that processed feral horses for the pet meat market.... even back then quite a few blokes declined to work that season due to the 'horse' factor.
     
    #990 Greysrigging, Jun 29, 2020
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2020 at 6:57 AM
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  41. teletripper

    teletripper Addicted

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    Glad you raised this point about picking and choosing, favouring and anthropomorphising certain species and not others. When you try to point out the hypocrisy of why is it that one introduced species, the feral horse or ‘brumby’, are afforded cultural icon status whereas other introduced species such as pigs or rabbits are treated with absolute disdain by the same people? In response the brumby activists will often throw the line back at you, ‘our diggers did not ride pigs or rabbits into war‘. Unfortunately a false modern mythology has been created around the ‘brumbies‘ supposed military role as opposed to ‘Walers’ or true military remounts, personifying ‘brumbies’ as ANZAC military heroes. We do know however that ‘brumbies’ in the late 1800’s early 1900’s were slaughtered by the thousands as land and lease holders regarded them as pests and exploited them as a convenient resource for hides, hair, meat and oil. The rabbits meanwhile also sacrificed there lives by the millions in military service to provide the iconic Australian diggers slouched hat. If I were to apply the same flawed logic, we should also therefore be ‘Saving the Rabbits!‘
     
  42. Xplora

    Xplora One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Much of this has been discussed in the preceding 19 pages but it is worth bringing it forward from time to time so those new to the discussion do not have to wade through it all. The arguments for keeping the horses have nothing to do with heritage at the baseline. It is just some idea they have created and want to cling to in order to create an emotional response from others which leads to support for their cause. The argument can be flawed, it doesn't matter as long as people can hold onto it without having to admit the real reason. For the most part it is simply about people who love horses so much they can no longer think rationally and contradictions are simply dispensed with. The other group of people wanting to save the horses are the ones extending a digit to the authorities for taking their all but free land away. Science and logic will never change their mind. My view is that trying to convince anyone using the science of it all will fail. You have to deal with people on an emotional level or make it personal to them in some way.
     
  43. Ubiquitous Steve

    Ubiquitous Steve A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    You cannot drink the water in those areas of heavy feral horse populations .......the drop kicks want to see the obvious degradation of catchments that is occurring.....
     
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  44. crackson

    crackson A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    You can't drink the water anywhere because giardia.
     
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  45. Ubiquitous Steve

    Ubiquitous Steve A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    In Victoria we drink from most mountain streams....poor Kosy is a disaster!
     
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  46. skifree

    skifree A disciple of the blessed avi giraffe Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    :fishing_ubb:
     
  47. Ubiquitous Steve

    Ubiquitous Steve A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    Yes...and not good for the fish either!
     
  48. Majikthise

    Majikthise Sage Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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  49. nezumi

    nezumi One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    I just wish that the originator of this graph had used a baseline of zero rather than intentionally misrepresenting the scale of the increase:

    [​IMG]
     
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  50. kylep

    kylep Cage rattler Ski Pass: Gold

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    Nah, the scale is ok - the 45% number is there. The misleading element is that 17 was down on 16, so the change is deliberately exaggerated
     
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