Departmental inertia on dying cattle

The Department of Sustainability and Environment has conceded during Senate Estimates Hearings in Parliament House today that it has so far done nothing to save the lives of tens of thousands of drought-affected Queensland Cattle.

The herds in question are likely to perish unless they are able to graze inside previous grazing properties that have now been declared national Parks.

Senator Ian Macdonald, Opposition spokesman for Northern and Remote Australia, said that he was appalled that the Minister Tony Burke had not been fully briefed in the 14 days since this issue was first raised by the Queensland Government.

This issue hit the national press on May 14, and I raised it in the Senate Chamber on five separate occasions on May 16, said the Senator.

And yet despite this level of coverage and despite the catastrophic implications of this issue for the cattle herds and the graziers in question the relevant Department has not provided official advice to the Minister, and the Minister who remains overseas at this critical time has made no decision.

In an animal welfare crisis such as this, hours count. Quick action can save the lives of these distressed animals but the kind of inertia that we are seeing is more likely to condemn them to a horrible death.

The Queensland Liberal National Government, by contrast, has chosen to put the welfare of the North Australian Beef cattle herd and the economic viability of Australian primary producers ahead of the bureaucratic concerns of department officials.

Thank goodness for the commitment of the Newman LNP Government in Queensland. Thanks to their quick action and dedication to rural Australians, some of the herd may be saved.

Senator Macdonald has asked officials from the Department to provide details of any communication they may have had with the Minister or his office regarding this matter.

It is nearly two weeks since we first raised this issue and this level of inaction is just astonishing. We need to be able to see the extent of this negligence.

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