Alps grazing bid fails

A legal bid in the Federal Court to overturn the Commonwealth ban on cattle grazing in the Apline National Park has failed, with Justice Susan Kenny dismissing the state government’s case on all grounds.

In a judgement handed down on Friday, Justice Kenny also ordered the state government to pay legal costs.

While cattle grazing in the park was banned by the Bracks government in 2005, about 400 cattle were returned two summers ago, with the Baillieu government wanting to run a six year trial to test whether cattle grazing curbed bushfire risk by reducing fuel loads.

However the Commonwealth ordered they be removed because the grazing trial had not received approval under national environment laws, with Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke blocking the state government’s application for the trial.

The state government requested a Federal Court review of the decision, arguing Mr Burke had wrongly used information not in the original project application to reach his conclusion and Victoria had not had the chance to respond to it.

It also argued that protection of the national heritage values of the Alps used by Mr Burke to make his decision was not appropriate because it applied only if Australia needed to uphold international conservation agreements.

However Justice Kenny dismissed all of the state governments arguments, rejecting its interpretation of national environment laws.

She said the environment laws did not preclude Mr Burke considering information beyond the trial application to make his decision.