A fourth-generation farmer, McMillan, 27, has lived on the land all his life. But he is angered by what he sees as a city-centric Government "selling out" parts of the rural community. The Government’s recent decision to ban cattle grazing in the Alpine National Park was the catalyst for today’s rally but, for farmers such as McMillan, it’s not the only cause for concern.
"There’s the lack of drought relief funding, inadequate road infrastructure or the amount of red-tape bureaucracy we have to deal with. We’ve basically had it," he says. "These days, we have to get a permit for a dam, we have to get a permit to even burrow out rabbit warrens. I don’t know how you can farm with that much baloney."
Today’s rally will not be the first time the bush has taken its fight to the city. But this protest is slightly different, not least because of all the governments in Labor’s history, this one prides itself most on understanding the bush.
How it came to this
So how, then, did it come to this? Since winning government in 1999 with 12 nonmetropolitan seats (this later increasing to 17 seats at the landslide 2002 state election), the Government has come to regard the so-called "renaissance of provincial Victoria" as one of its best achievements.
The mantra is often repeated by Premier Steve Bracks and Treasurer John Brumby: with Labor in power, country Victoria has had record population growth. More than $220 million has been allocated to 99 regional infrastructure projects, building approvals are healthy and investment in education and health has never been better.
Yet 18 months out from the next state election, many farmers and country residents insist that the Bracks Government is losing touch with the country and warn that there could be ramifications at the ballot box.
The problem, they say, is partly based on Government policies — policies that critics claim ignore local knowledge or, worse, have fundamentally changed the way of life for many people who, in a time of drought, are already struggling.
Plans to place a toxic waste dump near Mildura, cost blow-outs and delays in the Regional Fast Rail project and wind farm proposals have all made headlines in the metropolitan press. But other niggling issues, such as road funding, wild dogs slaughtering livestock, or new child employment laws preventing children under 15 from working on the family farm without a permit, are also cause for concern.
Mountain cattlemen
Another problem is the way regional issues are handled by the Government and the perception that Spring Street “just doesn’t get it”. Take, for instance, the Government’s contentious decision to ban cattle grazing in the Alpine National Park (or the doctored newspaper advertisements that followed promoting the move).
Mountain Cattlemen’s Association president Simon Turner says Environment Minister John Thwaites called his home on the day of the announcement and left a message on his answering machine about 12.05pm. The decision — which Turner says stunned his group — was formally announced by the Government at a press conference 20 minutes later.
It’s the kind of stuff that riles country voters, Victorian Farmers Federation president Paul Weller told The Age. Weller admits things weren’t much better under Jeff Kennett. But he believes the current Government has turned its back and refuses even to listen to solutions put forward by those from the country.
'No support'
"It takes me, the president of the VFF, three to four months to see a minister now and that’s not being responsive to the needs of the community," he says. "(Country people) aren’t rated as a high priority, (the Government’s actions) speak for themselves.
"We haven’t seen support for the drought, we haven’t seen support for the roads. Their '99 commitment to standardise rail hasn’t been met, their ’99 election commitment that they would pay for half of the boundary fences that have been burnt out hasn’t been kept and they continue to ignore us."
Newly independent MP Dianne Hadden, who recently resigned from the Government in disgust over regional fast rail, toxic waste dumps and wind farms, agrees. Labor MPs reckon Hadden is bitter and had no choice but to resign after losing preselection support. But the symbolism of her departure is potentially damaging to the Government as it prepares for next year’s election. And her parting salvo — that the Government had become "arrogant, just like Kennett" — was scathing.
But Treasurer John Brumby, who travels around country Victoria at least once a week in his role as Minister for State and Regional Development, rejects suggestions that the Government has become complacent.
Drought aside, "the fortunes of country Victorians are remarkably different to those of a decade ago under the Kennett Government," he says. He cites the cabinet’s visits to regional areas as proof that ministers are listening and refers proudly to an 11-point plan from 1999 which listed all the things the Government had hoped to achieve in regional Victoria. Each item — from abolishing catchment management authority taxes and compulsory competitive tendering, to creating a regional infrastructure development fund and boosting employment — has been ticked off.
"In the 1990s, in a lot of these (provincial) areas, property prices were going through the floor, you had negative population growth, you had businesses going backwards," says Brumby. "Now there’s been a complete turnaround. It’s not that there’s no more to be done, and it’s not to say that we’ve done everything perfectly, but we’ve made provincial Victoria a key priority."
'Political football'
Bob Humphreys,however, is not so sure. Humphreys is the 61-year-old owner of Hallmark Oaks Pty Ltd, one of four remaining sawmills in Cann River, a small town 455 kilometres north-east of Melbourne.
A few years ago there were 16 mills in the timber town. Humphreys says the Bracks Government’s up to 22.4 per cent increase in timber pricing will mean an additional cost to his business of somewhere between $250,000 and $300,000 a year. This does not just mean the closure of his and other sawmills, he says, but the death of Cann River.
Humphreys says the Government normally negotiates a price increase, usually in line with the rate of inflation, but this year there was no consultation.
"We have been a political football for years. Every time the cake goes to the table they take another slice out of it and give it to the Greens," he says. "The Government only cares about what is going on in the city, forget that this will be the end of this little town."
On the other side of the state, about 50 local members of the Victorian Farmers Federation gathered at the Lake Bolac Hotel about a fortnight ago, 100 kilometres west of Ballarat. The rare sound of rain on the roof brought smiles to the farmers and the local leaders. Commodity exports to China, the skills shortage and ways to attract skilled migrants, and State Government-local government relations were all on the agenda.
'Rough roads'
Retired grains farmer Jim Hinton, from Carranballac near Skipton, was one of many farmers who attended the meeting. Hinton says the biggest concern for country people is the 'rough and potholed' roads that he deems to be unsafe. He wants the State Government to match the Commonwealth’s $2.7 billion Roads to Recovery program, adding: "We are one state and we are treated two different ways."
The question of whether the country tide will turn against the Government at next year’s state election may be a moot point. Swinburne University politics expert Brian Costar is not convinced that a "raging regional backlash" will take place at the ballot box. Issues such as the cattle grazing ban, for instance, only affect a small minority of voters, and "apart from being a bloody long way away ... Labor doesn’t hold any seats within cooee of the place," he says.
Costar believes that even one of the most pressing country issues — the proposal for a toxic waste dump — appears to be losing prominence in the metropolitan media, and there’s still 18 months to go before the November election.
"It’s very hard to defend landslide majorities like the one that the Government has got so you’d expect them to lose a couple of seats, and it could be likely that some may be in regional Victoria just by the sheer mathematics of it. But that doesn’t mean there’s some raging regional backlash," he says.
National Party leader Peter Ryan believes the discontent will remain. Too many people are disenchanted. Country people live by their word, he says, and Bracks has broken his. "It is a critical element of living and doing business. People see (the Government) as having breached that trust and they are angry about it."
Killing The Man From Snowy River
The story - for and against - regarding the Victorian Governments decision to ban cattle from grazing in the Snowy Mountains Alpine National Park.

Come and support the Mountain Cattlemen and put forward a united country voice against the end of alpine grazing.
Noon at Parliament House
Riders will be departing the MCG Carpark at 11am and riding through the streets of Melbourne to Parliament House where they will join the masses at midday.

Those attending the rally should convene at Parliament House Gardens by 10.30am with the Rally and entertainment starting on the steps at 11am.
Below is a list outlining the timing for the rally and the Wed overnight camp.
Only well educated, quiet horses that are use to traffic and other horses will be allowed to participate. If horses and riders are deemed not to have the ability to rally, then they will be asked to leave their horses behind.
We strongly recommend people to take their horses into townships and populated areas to get them use to traffic, crowds, concrete etc.
Wednesday 8th June (overnight camp) 3.00pm onwards
Horse riders and those wanting to camp arrive at Gunbar Station, 566 Old Sydney Road, Beveridge for overnight camp.  If you are camping overnight, please call Bob or Scott (numbers below) to let them know numbers and for more information on the site and what you need to bring and a copy of the mud map.
Thursday 9th June (day of Rally) 5.00am – 5.30am
Horse floats to leave Gunbar Station for Vodafone Arena where horses will assemble for the rally.
10.30am – Mount up & get into formation.  Those not riding horses to assemble at Parliament House Gardens next to Parliament House, or along the route at Federation Square (ready to drop in walking behind the horses) – make sure you bring your placards, banners and families and wear your country clothes.
11.00am   Rally commences at Parliament House Steps with entertainment and speakers.  At the same time the horses will depart MCG Carpark under police escort along Wellington Pde, up Flinders Street,  right into Swanston Street and then turn right into Bourke Street where they will ride up to Parliament House.
NOON  Horses will arrive at Parliament House.  Assembled crowd to part and form guard of honour for mountain cattlemen.
1.30pm  Rally ends with horses riding back to MCG Carpark and people departing.
The man from Snowy River is no more.
Cattle grazing in Victoria's largest park -- the Alpine National Park -- will be banned forever when all existing 61 licences expire by June 2006.  Opponents have slammed the State Government's announcement, calling it an ideological sell-out that will destroy 170 years of tradition.

Below you will find news and web articles (in date order - oldest at the top) and links to more - on both sides of the story. Thank you to Tom Burlinson and Glenda Lovick for the information regarding this announcement and the rally.

UPDATE: 11 June 2005 - I have added all the news articles and photos from the cattlemens rally in Melbourne on Thursday 9 June 2005 - including pics of Tom who lead the rally with Charlie Lovick and spoke passionately to the crowd.  Scroll down below and give the photos time to open up as there are quite a few. If you have already read the earlier articles - click HERE to go straight to the rally articles.

www.lovicks.com.au     http://www.alpinelink.com.au/news/
http://www.mcav.com.au  The Mountain Cattlemens Association Of Victoria.  The whole story.
http://www.abc.net.au/pm/  Article and Real Audio story.    http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/  7.30 Report ABC Transcript
http://www.bordermail.com.au/969111     http://www.bordermail.com.au/967599
http://www.abc.net.au/victoria/stories/s1381329.htm   Real Player Interview with Tom  http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2005/s1388795.htm  Interview 9/6/05
7.30 Report Transcript 21/6/05
The Age. Cattlemen to vacate national park.  By Melissa Fyfe. May 24, 2005.
Mountain cattlemen will no longer be able to let their stock graze in the Alpine National Park after a decision by the Bracks Government.
Most of the 61 licences will expire in August and not be renewed.
The State Government has offered more than $5 million to compensate cattlemen and improve the park.
The decision has been welcomed by environment groups and the National Trust, but condemned by independent MP Craig Ingram, who said the decision was a "dark day for small rural communities".
Premier Steve Bracks said the decision did not mean the end of alpine grazing, as cattlemen would still be allowed to run their cattle in state forests.
Environment Minister John Thwaites said: "This is the right decision. All the science for many years has indicated that cattle grazing is not consistent with a national park."
Sir Gus Nossal, microbiologist Professor Nancy Millis and the CSIRO's Dick Williams were at the announcement today to explain the scientific reasons behind taking cattle out of the national park.
The National Trust has argued that grazing puts at risk dozens of plant species, the headwaters of significant river systems and is inconsistent with the management objectives of a national park.
But mountain cattlemen maintain alpine grazing is a "critically important cultural link from the past to the future". It says it reduces fuel for bushfires, benefits tourism, helps monitor pest plants and vermin, and has community support.
It says the cattlemen "feel honour-bound to continue the great tradition of responsible cattle grazing started by their families and predecessors about 170 years ago".
But a CSIRO report last December found that grazing had no discernible impact on fuel loads.
The cattlemen say cows have an impact, but the high country is in excellent condition. They also point out that the country is not pristine, and this is true.
The human hand from aqueducts to ski fields to dams has changed the landscape.
In the drought periods at the turn of last century, between 20,000 and 40,000 sheep were grazed on the Bogong and Mt Hotham high plains.
The park also has a problem with wild horses, deer and rabbits.
As an environmental historian, Lawrence says historic photographs show most of the bog damage and vegetation loss happened in the 1920s and '30s.
Soil scientist Ken Rowe and alpine hydrologist and environmental historian Ruth Lawrence, both from La Trobe University, have studied how cattle reduce the reliability, timing and quality of water that flows down from the high country and ultimately to the state's food bowl.
Cattle expose bare ground, which increases run-off. This may seem like a good thing, but the water erodes the soil and reaches streams more quickly, making the catchment more "flashy", reducing water quality and increasing the risk of flooding in lower areas.
When the alpine bogs which hold 10 times their weight in water degrade, they stop acting like sponges that slowly release water year-round. This is critical to farmers who rely on water during summer. Cattle also urinate and defecate in the alpine streams.

Victorian Farmers Federation May 24 2005
Thwaites’ green agenda kills men from Snowy River
The man from Snowy River would turn in his grave at the decision by the Bracks Government to ban Mountain Cattlemen and cattle grazing from our Alpine National Park.
Victorian Farmers Federation President, Paul Weller, said farmers will fight Steve Bracks’ ban on Alpine grazing by appealing to the Federal Government to protect this important part of Australia’s heritage.
“The Government has turned its back on Victoria’s mountain cattlemen who have been an important part of the Alpine environment over many generations protecting this iconic environmental treasure from fire and pest weed infestation,” Mr Weller said.
Mr Weller said the government has succumbed to a radical ideological philosophy to lock the community out of forests and allow them to deteriorate with weeds and pests.“Farmers have no confidence in the politically dominated Alpine Grazing Taskforce which is merely a front for government MPs to hide behind to avoid responsibility for their decision to sacrifice cattlemen to curry favour with radical environmentalists,”
Mr Weller said.“The VFF strongly supports the rights of our mountain cattlemen to graze stock in the Alpine National Park as part of a sustainable forest management policy.”Mr Weller said the decision to ban Alpine grazing is the latest salvo what seems to be a Bracks Governments’ red tape and regulations war on farming. “
The grazing ban is up there with the Government’s ridiculous Child Employment permits, toxic waste dumps, workplace controls, restrictions on ripping rabbit burrows, the broken election promise to help replace Crown land boundary fences destroyed by bushfires and the 20 per cent budget cut to the share of road safety funding for rural Victoria,” Mr Weller said. Mr Weller rejected the Government’s claims cattlemen would be protected by allowing additional cattle in state forests, saying the ban is clearly the thin-end-of-the-wedge for the green campaign of complete removal of cattle from forests.
Uncertain future: Bruce McCormack says mountain cattlemen will make it difficult for the Bracks Government at the election.
Photo: Craig Abraham
The AGE. Head 'em up, move 'em out.  By Melissa Fyfe  May 25, 2005

Science finally beat the Man from Snowy River. The State Government announced yesterday that cattle grazing will be banned in the Alpine National Park.
Messing with a legend is a scary thing for any government. There's normally heady emotion involved, tricky arguments of culture and strong public opinions. And of all Australian legends, the Man from Snowy River is surely one of the nation's most potent and enduring.
It is to this totem of history - immortalised in Banjo Paterson's poem and the hugely successful film - that Victoria's mountain cattlemen have hitched their fortunes.
It is because of the romance of musters and the high country that these farmers have enjoyed widespread public support.
So when the State Government prepared to tackle this legend yesterday, they pulled out one of their own - Sir Gus Nossal, the face of Australian science. Sir Gus enthusiastically embraced the Government's decision to protect the Alpine National Park from further damage under the hoofs of cows."
This will annoy a small minority of people but a vast majority of thinking Australians will agree," he told the press conference.
But this unexpected appearance was not just about Sir Gus' approval. His presence was symbolic: the State Government has science on its side. Premier Steve Bracks and Environment Minister John Thwaites made the announcement yesterday not just with Sir Gus, but also University of Melbourne emeritus professor Nancy Millis, a highly-respected scientific heavyweight, and the CSIRO's Dr Dick Williams, an expert in alpine environments.
The scientific evidence on the damaging ways of cows has been well documented for more than 50 years. Paper after paper, report after report, it had now become almost impossible for the State Government to ignore. In 1957, the Australian Academy of Science recommended that as soon as possible grazing animals be excluded from high country heights above 4500 feet.
In 1998, Parks Victoria commissioned CSIRO senior principal research scientist Richard Groves to assess the scientific evidence.
He found it robust and said the persistence of grazing was "an indictment" on land management authorities and Parks Victoria.
During all of this the cattlemen complained bitterly of a green agenda, but things only got worse for them. Last year a study proved their claim that "grazing reduces blazing" was wrong.
Another study earlier this year found that one section of the Alpine National Park had 1.7 million cow pats on it (they can last for five years in an alpine environment).
Cows in alpine environments trample streambanks, springs and soaks and damage fragile alpine mossbeds. They are an erosion menace, creating bare ground and disturbing soil. They pollute alpine water and threaten alpine flora and fauna, of which 300 species are rare or threatened. They also spread weeds, which the State Government then spends hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to eradicate.
But there are several factors that have conspired to push the State Government into making this difficult decision now.
First, most of the cattlemen's seven-year licences expire in August. Second, it is impossible for the Government - so focused on the water issue - to ignore the most important reason to remove cattle from the park: it is the headwater to many major rivers, including the Murray.
Removing cattle will better protect delicate alpine bogs that have built up over thousands of years and act like large sponges, filtering and slowly releasing water down to the valleys in a seasonal, clean flow.
It was this reason that Mr Bracks and Mr Thwaites mentioned most often yesterday.
The other factor is the 2003 bushfires, which burnt 60 per cent of the national park and 77 per cent of the grazed area. A scientific body headed by Professor Millis recommended that cattle not be allowed in to the burnt areas above 1200 metres for at least 10 years. Regardless of any decision, it would have been a lengthy wait for the mountain cattlemen to get back into the park.
Cattle grazing was also becoming a costly exercise for the taxpayer.
The farmers paid $5.50 for each cow to spend the summer in the park, but this amounted to subsided agriculture. Parks Victoria, which was quietly rejoicing at the decision yesterday, was spending hundreds of thousands of dollars repairing alpine bogs, fighting weeds and managing the cows in the park. The announcement yesterday hinted at how costly this had become. The State Government will spend $650,000 on repairing damaged areas of the park, particularly mossbeds. If you take the entire $5.4 million package of compensation and park improvements, it adds up to a taxpayer payment of $675 per cow.
The taxpayer subsidies were starting to irritate other beef producers.
Prominent Gippsland beef producer Bill Bray told The Age yesterday that he supported the State Government's decision.
"The writing has been on the wall for some time, and they should have looked at their environmental impact some years ago," he said. "Other cattle farmers have talked to me about what a low amount they pay for the lease of the land and that's created some disquiet."
Yesterday afternoon, the mountain cattlemen were pondering the options available to them.
One is taking their horses to the steps of Parliament House, as they did in 1984. They will definitely appeal to the Federal Government for an emergency listing of the park and their culture on the National Heritage List - although this was rejected by the Federal environment department this year. The issue could become another state-federal battle if Federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell decides to take up the mountain cattlemen's cause.

Man in the saddle ponders: Is this the end of the trail?
For cattleman Bruce McCormack, news of the State Government's ban on cattle grazing in the Alpine National Park was like hearing that a family member had died.
"I'm lost for words," he said as he tended to the horses on his Merrijig property yesterday afternoon.
"I feel like someone has died".
As a fifth-generation cattleman whose family has been running cattle into the high country for 105 years, the ban on grazing in the park over summer marks the end of a treasured tradition.
"We've spent our whole life living and breathing the high country and now it's been taken away from us," he said. "The whole family is just gone, it's hard to imagine life without it.
"While driving the cattle up for the summer has been an annual ritual for as long as he can remember, McCormack is also concerned about losing the legend that goes with it.
"We are the so-called men from Snowy River. We've created that image through what we do with our horses and cattle up there," he said.
"We wear our hats every day of the week, we don't just put them on to go to a show once a week.
There's a man from Snowy River in every one of us and now it's gone."
McCormack said that legend was a part of his livelihood. As well as managing cattle, he has a horse riding business, offering tourists an insight into the Snowy River experience.
"It's never going to be the same going up there, I don't know if I'll continue with the trail rides," he said.
"To sit around the fire with people and tell stories about the cattle and what we do with them would just be lying. It won't happen now. We would just be pretending."
The prospect of closing the trail-ride business is just the half of it for McCormack. The ban on grazing will force him and son Adam to consider selling their 111 high country cattle. Either that, or lease more land near their property.
But with the worsening drought and the local sale yards nearing their end, he said keeping the cattle would be a gamble.
"We're not going to keep selling cattle for a living here if there's only going to be 20 people turning up to buy them," he said.
The State Government's compensation plan would help ease the financial stress of making such decisions, he said, but it wouldn't make it any easier to lose the family's connection with its history.
"It's not about the money anymore, it won't bring back the experience," he said. "People will have to read about us in library books somewhere."
While McCormack admitted he was better placed than many others to manage the financial implications of the ban, he was determined to keep fighting.
He remained hopeful that the Federal Government would approve an application to have grazing in the park protected under national heritage laws.
"Ian Campbell said pre-election that he'd back us on the heritage listing ... So we might be able to overturn the state decision at a federal level. That's where we are now," he said.
"Other than that, we'll just make sure we make it very difficult for the Bracks Government at the next election. They don't care about country Victoria, they proved that today." - Julia Medew

Making of a mountain legend
1830s Mountain cattlemen begin their summer muster of cattle to Victoria's high country.
1890 AB 'Banjo' Paterson's The Man From Snowy River published.
1920s Grazing temporarily halted in Mount Buffalo National Park, finally terminated in 1952.
1957 The Australian Academy of Science recommends the complete exclusion of all grazing above 4500 feet.
1969 Cows banned from Kosciuszko National Park in NSW.
1982 The movie based on Paterson's poem is released.
1984 More than 300 cattlemen ride horses down Bourke Street, above, to protest against the formation of the Alpine National Park, fearing grazing may end.
1989 Cattle allowed to stay in the park; grazing licences extended from one year to seven.
2004 Taskforce established to look at the effects and future of grazing.
2005 Premier Steve Bracks says cattle will be banned from grazing in Victoria's Alpine National Park after current grazing licences expire.

What they said
AUSTRALIAN CONSERVATION FOUNDATION. Don Henry, executive director. "National Parks should be for people and not cattle that are damaging the sensitive water and ecosystems of the high country. The decision is a balanced one because it protects the Alpine National Park for the future, while allowing grazing to continue in some state forests and on private lands."
ENVIRONMENT VICTORIA. Marcus Godinho, executive director. "This is a national park, not a cow paddock. Cattle grazing in the park is not only destroying some of this state's most precious and endangered species but continued erosion is also threatening Victoria's major river systems."
NATIONAL TRUST OF AUSTRALIA (VICTORIA). Stephen Hare, chief executive. "What is apparent from extensive research is that grazing is causing significant damage - We believe that the tradition of the mountain cattlemen should continue, but in less environmentally sensitive areas elsewhere in the high country."
VICTORIAN FARMERS FEDERATION. Paul Weller, president. "The Man from Snowy River would turn in his grave at the decision by the Bracks Government to ban mountain cattlemen and cattle grazing from our Alpine National Park. The Government has turned its back on Victoria's mountain cattlemen."
INDEPENDENT MP FOR EAST GIPPSLAND. Craig Ingram. "I think you'll find that not only will the mountain cattlemen be devastated and very angry at this but also country communities right across Victoria will look on this very dimly and see it is a very dark day for natural resource management and small rural communities."
MOUNTAIN CATTLEMEN'S ASSOCIATION OF VICTORIA. Simon Turner, president. "This decision will force some of our members off their farms. It will be the end of the generational transfer of some farming properties that have had licences in the park area for 170 years. There will be fierce anger in the country over this decision."
The Age. After 170 years, it's the last round-up. Date: May 25 2005. By Melissa Fyfe Environment Reporter
Victoria's Alpine National Park will be cattle-free next year. The State Government yesterday banned the 170-year-old tradition of grazing cattle in the fragile high country.
Premier Steve Bracks said he was swayed by decades of scientific evidence that showed cattle had damaged the park.
The decision brings Victoria in line with NSW, which banned such grazing 30 years ago.
The ban will hit about 45 operators, who muster 8000 cattle in the Alpine National Park each summer.
But Mr Bracks said the tradition of the mountain cattlemen would not die, as 10,000 cows could still be grazed in state forests. "The decision will benefit future generations who wish to experience the beautiful alpine areas," he said.
The move, while welcomed by green groups and bushwalkers, was immediately criticised as a blow to regional Victoria.
Story Picture: High country cattleman Ken Connelly rounds up his herd on the Bogong High Plains. Cattlemen fear their image and tradition will now be remembered only in museums.
The cattlemen said they feared their iconic image and tradition of The Man From Snowy River - a legend that opened the Sydney Olympic Games - would be remembered only in museums.
"Future generations will condemn this Government for killing off living history," said the Mountain Cattlemen's Association of Victoria's president, Simon Turner. "Environment Minister John Thwaites has plunged a knife deep into the heart of Victoria's history."
National Party leader Peter Ryan said: "Steve Bracks will go down in history as the man who killed the Man from Snowy River."
Mr Bracks said cattle grazing, not normally allowed in national parks, had eroded land, threatened endangered species, reduced water quality at the headwaters of Victoria's major rivers, and made the park less desirable for bushwalkers and tourists.
Regardless of yesterday's decision, a scientific panel had told the State Government that cows should not return for 10 years to areas burnt by the 2003 alpine fires, which are above 1200 metres.
Research had shown that cattle grazing had stopped the alpine park achieving national and world heritage listings, which the State Government would now pursue.
The Victorian National Parks Association's Charlie Sherwin said the decision gave "our children's children the opportunity to enjoy spectacular, healthy alpine landscapes swathed in native wildflowers". The National Trust welcomed the decision as a good balance of cultural and natural heritage.
Marcus Godinho, the executive director of Environment Victoria, said cattle grazing in the park was destroying endangered species. "This is a national park, not a cow paddock," he said.
The State Government will pay each cattleman $100 for each head of cattle per year over three years - up to $100,000.
More than $2 million of extra money will be spent on weed and pest animal control in the park, along with $650,000 for rehabilitation of the areas cattle have damaged, particularly the delicate and ancient moss beds.
A further $765,000 will be spent on cultural festivals, better signs of high country heritage, and historic hut maintenance.
The decision provoked anger in State Parliament, with Liberal leader Robert Doyle accusing Mr Bracks of breaking a Labor promise to mountain cattlemen that grazing licences would stay.
Outside Parliament, Mr Doyle said the ban was based on ALP policy, not scientific evidence.
He said the only reason Victoria had the national park was because mountain cattlemen had agreed in 1989 to give up their land on the "legislated promise" from the Cain Labor government that they would be allowed to continue grazing cattle in the park. "Now there won't be any 'man from Snowy River'," he said. "We might have photos, but we won't have the real thing. We are losing living heritage."
Federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell said he would consider an emergency national heritage listing, which the cattlemen believe would enshrine and protect their annual musters.
But the federal Environment Department had rejected a similar plea earlier this year.
Independent East Gippsland MP Craig Ingram said yesterday was a dark day for small rural communities, and that the $5.4 million State Government package to compensate cattlemen, boost tourism and improve the park was "buying out" somebody's heritage. "This Government got into power on the back of country voters," he said.
The decision would hurt the people to whom Mr Bracks owed electoral success in 1999, he said.
Mansfield-based cattleman Bruce McCormack said that while the ban would create financial difficulties for him, it could force others to abandon their farms.
"Some people are starting to say they will sell their cattle next week and get out," he said. Mr McCormack, who drives a herd of just over 100 cattle up to the national park every summer, said the compensation would help in the short term.
- With Paul Austin and Julia Medew
Alpine cattle ban slammed. May 25, 2005 From: AAP
THE Victorian opposition tonight condemned the state government's decision to end cattle grazing in Victoria's Alpine National Park.
The ban will come into effect after current grazing licences expire, the majority in August this year, although cattle will still be allowed to forage elsewhere in the high country.
Agriculture spokesman Philip Davis today said many values, traditions and heritage symbols of country life would "go down the gurgler because of Labor Party policy".
The government had broken a promise, given in parliament in 2003 by Environment Minister John Thwaites, that grazing licences would continue.
"This is another Bracks Government broken promise and another blow country Victorians will feel for many years," he said.
"Their children will never know, nor have an appreciation for the activities of their forbearers because Labor decided to wipe out 170 years of tradition and heritage."
The Nationals leader Peter Ryan earlier today said the parliamentary inquiry on alpine grazing was a sham because the government had decided its policy months ago.
"Steve Bracks will go down in history as the man who killed The Man from Snowy River," he said.
Mr Ryan said the decision attacked "the very heart of rural life" and showed Labor would "do anything to shore up support amongst the extreme Greens".
Herald Sun. Grazing bans kill a legend. Jeremy Kelly and Sarah Wotherspoon. 25may05
THE man from Snowy River is no more.
Cattle grazing in Victoria's largest park -- the Alpine National Park -- will be banned forever when all existing 61 licences expire by June next year.
Opponents have slammed the State Government's announcement, calling it an ideological sell-out that will destroy 170 years of tradition.
They will lobby the Federal Government to block the move.
Mt Beauty cattleman Harry Ryder said the decision would have a dire effect on his farm.
He said it was not just a lamentable decision for cattlemen but for all Victorians.
"Victoria has just become a little less interesting because that bit of history has been removed," he said.
But the State Government is citing science and a need to preserve the park from the damage caused by grazing as reasons for the ban, a view supported by environment groups.
Responding to the Government's Alpine Grazing Taskforce report, Premier Steve Bracks said yesterday grazing would be banned in the national park but would continue in Victoria's high country.
The 45 holders of the existing grazing licences will be paid up to $100,000 over three years in compensation to help them in the transition of their grazing practices.
The compensation will be handed out at the rate of $100 per cow each year for three years.
About 8000 cattle are currently allowed to graze in the national park with another 10,000 cattle permitted to graze in the surrounding state forests.
Mr Bracks said grazing in the national park threatened fauna and flora, and there was good reason to ban it.
The decision was backed by the Department of Sustainability and Environment's chief scientist, Sir Gustav Nossal, and the Scientific Advisory Panel, chaired by Professor Nancy Millis, which was set up in the wake of the 2003 bushfires.
The panel had earlier recommended grazing be banned from the national park for at least another 10 years to allow it to recover from the fires.
Nationals leader Peter Ryan said the inquiry was a sham and the Government was going to ban the grazing no matter what.
"Steve Bracks will go down as the man who killed The Man from Snowy River," Mr Ryan said. "There was no need to do this. I hope the green voters in suburban Melbourne are very, very happy."
Opposition Leader Robert Doyle said the move was not about science, but was a sell-out.
Victorian Farmers Federation president Paul Weller said the Man from Snowy River would turn in his grave at the decision and that the VFF would appeal to the Federal Government to help protect this important part of Australia's heritage.
Environment Victoria executive director Marcus Godinho said it was a fair and sensible decision.
But Mountain Cattlemen's Association of Victoria president Simon Turner said the decision was devastating.
Mr Turner said, however, that the decision was not the end and the association would keep fighting to ensure alpine grazing continued.
Herald Sun.  Dam fight in alpine war. Jeremy Kelly 26may05. Picture: Trevor Pinder
THE Bracks Government is under fire after using a contentious photograph to sell its controversial decision to ban cattle grazing in the Alpine National Park.
A dark image of cattle grazing at a dam above a lighter picture of a family wandering through the park was yesterday described by the Opposition as misleading.
Grazing licences in the national park will not be renewed when they expire mid next year.
The Government said the environmental impact of grazing was too great for it to continue.
Facing stiff criticism, the Government commissioned a $250,000 ad campaign arguing that cattle grazing in the national park was destructive.
But the Opposition said the photo of the cattle had been doctored.
"The advertisements in the daily newspapers feature a photograph of cattle which has clearly had its colour distorted to give the impression the cattle have turned the
No cattle problems: Charlie Lovick at the dam site.
surrounding bushland into a dark, desolate bog," said Opposition agriculture spokesman Phillip Davis.
The Herald Sun visited the contentious waterhole yesterday. It is a dam in the Alpine National Park but below the snow line, outside the most fragile alpine areas.
It is about 20m off a 4WD track, made to collect water and silt run-off and as a cattle watering hole.
Herald Sun photographer Trevor Pinder yesterday visited the site with cattleman Charlie Lovick, whose family's cattle have grazed the area for five generations.
Both said the area around the dam was pristine with no evidence of damage from cattle grazing.
The company responsible for putting the ad together -- house mouse design Pty Ltd -- said the photo had appeared exactly as it was supplied.
Graphic designer Miguel Valenzuela told the Herald Sun the Government knew the images it supplied were vastly different.
He said he was very happy with how the ad came out but the Government had now asked him to lighten the picture of the cattle for future ads.
Environment Minister John Thwaites said he was disappointed with how the ad came out.
Mr Thwaites' spokesman, Geoff Fraser, later said if the photo had been altered it was done without approval and after the minister had signed-off on it.
Opposition Leader Robert Doyle told Parliament the campaign was a dishonest use of taxpayer money to vilify the mountain cattlemen's way of life.
Media Release. Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage. Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell. 26 May 2005
The man from Snowy River - a unique heritage under threat
The Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, has agreed to initiate an emergency listing assessment of the Alpine National Park under the National Heritage Act.
Senator Campbell today met representatives of the Mountain Cattlemen's Association of Victoria to discuss the Victorian Government's decision to unilaterally end 170 years of grazing in the Victorian high country.
"In light of the decision by the Bracks Labor Government to tear up the grazing licences held by these Australian families for six generations, I will be asking my department to provide an assessment on the emergency listing within 10 days," Senator Campbell said.
"I intend to hold the Victorian Government accountable for the protection of this unique part of our Australian heritage."
Under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, the Minister must make a decision on emergency listing within 10 working days.
"The Man from Snowy River is deep in the Australian psyche. This legend is part of Australia's heritage that simply cannot be lost. It should be noted that these 'men from Snowy River' work just 7900 cattle over an enormous high country area of 340,000 hectares - the equivalent of just one animal every 23 MCGs.
"We need an outcome that fully protects both the natural and cultural heritage values of the park," Senator Campbell said.
The Age. A battle for heritage. By Melissa Fyfe.   May 28, 2005

The horse is Kip. The young man is Adam. Here on top of Mount Stirling they normally feel at home. But this mountain cattleman now sees the high country as a place that may forget his traditions.
Adam McCormack and his father Bruce are still reeling from the State Government's ban this week on cattle grazing in the Alpine National Park. Adam, 23, a sixth-generation cattleman, said he had ridden on the family's annual summer musters to King River since he was "a little tacker".
"I'd like to have children myself one day and do the same thing - grow up and hand on the tradition," he said.
Craig's Hut, pictured behind Adam and Kip, was built for The Man from Snowy River film. Bruce McCormack was a rider in the cast.
Ask any conservationist and they will tell you that the cattle
Adam McCormack on Kip at Craigs Hut, Mt Stirling.
men's claim to national heritage listing is as genuine as claiming Craig's Hut is a real cattlemen's shack.
The man from Snowy River chased brumbies, not cows, says the Victorian National Parks Association's Charlie Sherwin. Many cattlemen now trucked their cows up to the summer pasture and two large licences were held by corporations, he said.
But this is what the argument will come down to: a battle of heritage. Which is more important: natural or cultural heritage?
For the McCormacks, there is a glimmer of hope. Yesterday they said they would be "happy enough" if they could get access to state forest, where 10,000 cattle - the bulk of stock grazed in the high country - can still feed.
State Environment Minister John Thwaites told The Age yesterday there was scope to consider extra licences in state forest.
The AGE. High farce in high country. May 29, 2005.   David Broadbent is Channel Nine's state politics reporter.

The ignorance of the difference between cows and steers created plenty of derision in Parliament, writes David Broadbent.
There has been a growing ripple of speculation over recent weeks about whether the Bracks Government is losing its collective political touch, judgement and skills.
Last week's extraordinarily clumsy attempts to sell the ban on cattle grazing in the Alpine National Park might not turn that ripple into a tsunami, but observers have been amazed that Australia's spin champions could get themselves into such a tangle on such a critical issue.
Some observers are also wondering whether the Government's best country asset, Treasurer John Brumby, has been too distracted by the budget and its aftermath to provide the benefit of his instincts to what could be a crucial communications campaign.
It is 20 years since the mountain cattlemen rode their horses through Melbourne's central business district in a devastatingly effective campaign against the Cain government's plans to create the Alpine National Park and ban grazing within its borders.
The protest was staged during the crucial Nunawading byelection and was the final straw in a campaign that saw the Coalition regain control of the Upper House. The park was created, but the battle to ban grazing was lost, and the defeat is still spooking Labor MPs with long memories.
How else can we explain the defensive mind-set behind the inept and wrong-footed campaign launched by the Government to sell its proposed ban on high-country grazing?
The Government insisted its decision to ban grazing in the Alpine National Park was based on overwhelming scientific evidence that cattle are steadily chopping up a unique and sensitive environment. NSW introduced its own ban on high-country grazing in 1972.
In Victoria "only 45 licensees" were affected and they would still be able to graze their cattle in state forests.
Days before the official announcement, selected journalists were briefed well enough to produce thoughtful backgrounders, and a host of experts were lined up to sell the decision.
Attitudes have changed since the cattlemen's 1985 protest rides and some believe The Man from Snowy River has lost some of his iconic potency. Nevertheless, the Government was nervous, and launched some of the most unconvincing and clunky advertisements anybody can remember.
The Melbourne radio spots were laughable, with a querulous suburbanite whingeing about the fact he can't hear his own voice above the noises of "cows" in a "national park".
The ignorance of the difference between cows and steers created plenty of derision in Parliament.
The newspaper advertisements were even more ludicrous, contrasting doctored pictures of ploughed-up watering holes with what looked like a scene from The Sound of Music. Instead of explaining the decision, the advertisements were perceived as a clumsy attack on living legends.
By Thursday afternoon about a dozen members of Labor's country caucus had had enough, and stormed into the office of Environment Minister John Thwaites to demand right of veto over all future advertisements. They've been assured a new campaign will be launched later in the year.
In the meantime National Party leader Peter Ryan is convinced the issue could be the "lightning rod" that unites a lot of small, so far un-co-ordinated, groups of disaffected country voters.
These include opponents of wind farms, victims of land tax, people disgruntled about delays to the overblown very fast train project and citizens of the 34 towns through which trucks laden with toxic waste will drive on their way to the proposed Nowingi dump.
As Bracks and Brumby know better than anyone in the state, country voters can change governments.
This is a classic political tussle where perception will be everything. Unless the Government can lift its efforts, it could unwittingly cobble together an extremely damaging coalition of country opponents.
The Mountain Cattlemen, with the support of a number of associated country groups, will hold a rally on Thursday June 9 at noon on the steps of Parliament House in Melbourne, to put forward a united country voice against the end of alpine grazing.  The horses will be departing the Olympic Park precinct at 11am, and will be met by a guard of honour at Parliament House at 11.30am.  
Last week, the State Government announced its decision to remove cattlemen from the Alpine National Park, effectively erasing 170 years of history.  This is despite earlier promises that cattle grazing would remain a legitimate activity in the national park.
“This is nothing short of a kick in the guts,” according to Chris Stoney, a third-generation cattleman and spokesman for Country Voice, the group representing the cattlemen.
“For two years, we have cooperated with the Government only to find that it had planned to do us over all along.  It is a decision driven purely by ideology and a hunger for Green preferences at the next state election, and has nothing to do with sound and sustainable land management,” Mr Stoney said.
“The compensation package promised by the Government is insulting to affected families, most of whom will receive less than half the speculated $100,000 the government would have us believe.
“After the decision was announced, the Government has undertaken a costly PR and advertising campaign to justify its actions, including hollow promises that cattlemen can move to forest leases, when that is simply not the case.  The so-called 10,000 cattle to be retained in state forests is a practical nonsense for most families, as the areas are directly adjacent to National Parks with only an invisible border between the two.
“This deception reflects the Government’s dismissive and arrogant attitude towards country Victorians,” Mr. Stoney said.
Hundreds will arrive in Melbourne on horseback to attend the rally, which will be addressed by political leaders and a host of celebrity supporters.  The star of “The Man From Snowy River”, Tom Burlinson, who is unable to attend the rally due to work commitments, has lent his support to the Country Voice campaign.
“The bush belongs to all Australians, and the High Country holds a special place in the hearts of people across the country,” Mr Burlinson said.
Country Voice has invited Victorians to march with them in expressing their opposition to a decision that seriously undermines Victoria’s proud rural heritage.
“This should be a warning for all country Victorians that this Government does not have their interests at heart.  We fear this is only the thin end of the wedge,” Mr Stoney said.
“One by one, it is picking us off.  The only way to tell this Government to pull its head in is to vote with our feet. United, we can stop it.”
The Canberra Times.  Mountain cattlemen face the final muster.  By Nick Lenaghan.  Monday, 30 May 2005
T HE MEN from Snowy River took last week what might be the most important ride of their lives.
They went to Canberra to win a reprieve for their 170-year-old tradition of alpine grazing through an emergency heritage listing under federal legislation.
They'll soon learn whether their appeal to Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell has been successful.
The mountain cattlemen say the Victorian Government's decision last week to ban cattle from the state's alpine national park will force some to abandon grazing businesses handed down from generation to generation.
The summer muster of cattle in Victoria's high country, which began in the 1830s, provides a livelihood for a relatively small number of rural families.
But it has fostered a powerful legend which resonates in the national psyche and was presented to the world at the Sydney Olympics opening ceremony. Banjo Paterson's 1890 poem put a brand on the myth and spawned two films in the 1980s.
So it was a bold move from a state government known for its slow but steady approach to ban grazing as the 61 licences expire this year and next.
Environmentalists, backed by a lot of science, say it's also a long overdue intervention to save the fragile alpine terrain from the trampling herds of cattle.
The state government will allow grazing to continue in state forest outside the park and has offered the cattlemen $100 per head of cattle over three years - up to $100,000 in total - to ease the transition.
But Bruce McCormack, whose family has been running cattle in the mountains since 1900 fears he may have to give up the 111 head of cattle he's licensed to graze, which is worth about 30 per cent of his income.
The summer muster is a way of life for a whole community, he says.
The trail rides he takes into the mountains have proven popular with overseas tourists, especially since the 2000 Olympics, but MrMcCormack doubts he has the heart to continue if the ban holds.
The 2003 bushfires, which devastated up to 80 per cent of the grazing areas in the national park, and the looming expiry of the licences set the scene for Premier Steve Bracks and Environment Minister John Thwaites to declare their hands.
Since the bushfires, only 800 cattle have grazed selected areas of the park, well down on the 8,000 head licensed, to allow the burnt areas to regenerate.
This year a scientific advisory panel, led by distinguished biologist Professor Nancy Millis, found the high country would need much longer to recover. It recommended cattle be kept out of the burnt areas for another 10 years.
Professor Millis said last week that the panel had found the burnt alpine areas were in a "serious detrimental state" and "recovery was going to be very complex and would be seriously prejudiced if grazing were permitted to return before at least 10 years".
Grazing was stopped in NSW in the 1960s and a century ago in the ACT.
Going back 50 years, research has accumulated showing the damage cattle cause by trampling through the headwaters of rivers, causing bare ground and erosion, eating wildflowers and leaving cow pats. Of most concern though are the unique alpine bogs containing moss beds which filter water and provide shelter for several threatened species. "Further damage by trampling is inevitable because the moss beds used to be protected by shrubs," Professor Millis said.
The evidence was enough to convince the state government not to the renew the seven-year licences.
After meeting the cattlemen, Senator Campbell agreed to initiate an assessment for emergency heritage listing and will give his answer early in June.
"This legend is part of Australia's heritage that simply cannot be lost," Senator Campbell said. That's enough to give the cattlemen hope that they - and their children - will be saddling up for summers to come and heading up into the mountains.
Herald Sun. Graziers losing the battle. Michael Harvey. 30may05
LAST-minute moves to allow cattle grazing in the Alpine National Park failed to persuade Steve Bracks to lift his controversial ban yesterday.
The Howard Government has less than a week to decide whether to grant an emergency heritage listing for alpine grazing.
Federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell is weighing submissions from cattlemen, the State Government and departmental officials.
But Mr Bracks confidently defended the Government's decision to rip up grazing licences.
Asked if he would fight any bid by Senator Campbell to impose emergency heritage listing, the Premier said: "I don't think we need to.
"Our legal advice says he can't under the Act so he'll have to make some extraordinary steps.
"Is the Federal Government saying: 'I'm going to force another jurisdiction to actually issue a licence'? These licences have expired."
The State Government wants to move cattle from the national park into state reserves.
Mr Bracks said his case was boosted by a Department of Environment and Heritage letter that had called for cattle to be removed from the park.
The Age.  Killing the Man from Snowy River.  John Schauble is an Age writer. May 31, 2005
Banjo Paterson liked his myths and so, it seems, do the friends of grazing, writes John Schauble.
The tussle for the tussocks in Victoria's high country - the debate about alpine grazing - seems to have little to do with the environment. It has become a battle about culture, not cows.
The television one-liner from Victorian National Party leader Peter Ryan that, in seeking to end grazing in Victoria's Alpine National Park, Premier Steve Bracks had "killed the man from Snowy River" was one indication of this. Another was the bizarre spectacle of federal Environment and Heritage Minister Ian Campbell galloping across the lawn at Parliament House in Canberra.
The struggle for Victoria's high country has become yet another skirmish in the history wars that have shaped political dialogue during the Howard years. Key questions of environmental protection and the economics of allowing grazing to continue have become lost in the mountains as the ideologues gather for the fray. The battle has become one of bush myth and iconography.
Ryan's response is interesting as it reinforces some widely held misconceptions about Banjo Paterson's famous poem. Australia's most popular poet, Paterson was also our finest myth-maker. "The Man" that Paterson describes was already a historical figure when the poet published his memorable lines in 1895. The horseman was a metaphor for the sort of figure Australians who, by the start of the 20th century, had largely retreated to the cities, wanted themselves to be.
The work itself has nothing directly to do with cattle grazing. It is a ballad about rounding up wild horses, a practice Paterson regarded as a sort of 19th-century extreme sport, "the grandest sport known in Australia".
Paterson certainly knew what he was talking about when it came to horses. As Nanette Mantle points out in Horse and Rider in Australian Legend, Paterson was a highly skilled and respected horseman. But he was also a romantic, a city dweller with a deeply nostalgic vision of the bush. Mantle concludes that by the time The Man from Snowy River was written, Paterson's nostalgia for the past had been "transformed and preserved as mythology".
But the story has mutated and been reinterpreted in film and TV versions that have nothing to do with the original, developing its own mythology beyond Paterson's creation.
Campbell's response is even more intriguing, not least because he brings considerable political clout to the debate.
The Victorian Government, on the basis of submissions put to it by interest groups concerning environmental, heritage, economic and social issues, has determined to end grazing in the national park, while allowing it to continue in other parts of the high country. The decision is well within Victoria's legislative powers and directly affects a small number of graziers.
Against the advice prepared by his department last year and submitted to the Alpine Grazing Taskforce, Campbell last week determined to intervene by initiating a process that could see the droving and grazing of cattle in the high country given emergency protection as a heritage activity.
While claiming impartiality, Campbell clearly has a view. "There is no doubt in any Australian's mind," he said last week, "that 170 years of Australians droving cattle up into the alps, letting them graze there and bringing them back down again at the end of summer is an absolutely central part of the Australian story."
In fact, it's about as remote from the more mundane truth of the Australian story as it gets. Even Banjo Paterson recognised that much in the lines of another ballad, Clancy of the Overflow, where he reflected on the dullness of urban life, "the foetid air and gritty of the dusty, dirty city".
Through the extraordinary act of mounting a cattleman's horse, the minister sought to become part of the imagery that has come to dominate this debate. Sadly for the environmentalists, the cattlemen win hands down with props. The imagery of horse, rider, Akubra and Driza-Bone is irresistible to the media. The best the environmentalists can offer are a few wildflowers and some sodden peat bogs.
The minister has allowed himself to become part of the illusion created by Paterson. The appeal to the Federal Government of aligning itself with the values espoused by the mountain cattlemen - independence, resilience, pitting man against nature - must be almost irresistible.
Forget the science or regard for the environment as something other than a resource to be exploited. The debate has been reduced to a level at which anyone who disagrees with the mythology can be tagged with the catch-all of "un-Australian".
Herald Sun.  Snowy actor to ride again.  01jun05
THE actor behind the Man from Snowy River, Tom Burlinson, will ride again.
He will lead a rally of mountain cattlemen on horseback to Victoria's Parliament House next week to protest against a ban on alpine grazing.
Other celebrities, including Stingers' Katie Kendell and AFL identities Billy Brownless, Tim Watson and Josh Fraser, will also join the June 9 ride.
Spurred by the move to shut cattle out of the state's alpine national park, the mountain cattlemen have formed a lobby group called Country Voice.
They say the ban will end a 170-year-old tradition of summer musters and destroy their way of life.
Chris Stoney, a third-generation cattleman and Country Voice spokesman, said the ban was driven by ideology and a hunger for Green preferences at the next state election.
"This should be a warning for all country Victorians that this government does not have their interests at heart," he said. "We fear this is only the thin edge of the wedge."
The state's mountain cattlemen have already recruited the Federal Government in their campaign to overturn the ban, including Environment and Heritage Minister Ian Campbell.
Last week, Senator Campbell said the summer musters were "an absolutely central part of the Australian story".
By law, the Environment Minister must decide by next week whether to issue an emergency listing allowing grazing to continue in recognition of its social and cultural heritage value.
The State Government has said its ban will not end the cattlemen's tradition because they will still be able to graze their stock in state forest areas.
The Weekly Times. City protest. PAUL SELLARS, DANIELLE LE GRAND and DAVID McKENZIE. 01jun05
Farmers take anger to Spring St
ANGRY farmers will protest in Melbourne next week over the ban on alpine grazing and other grievances.
Thousands of farmers are expected to converge on Parliament House on June 9 in support of Victoria's mountain cattlemen, who were last week locked out of the Alpine National Park by the Victorian Government.
But Victorian Farmers Federation president Paul Weller said the protest was also motivated by anger over a range of Victorian Government policies, from pest control and drought relief to road funding, water and the Child Employment Bill.
Disaffected groups will protest at the ``Enough's Enough Rally'' under the banner of Country Voice.
The Government's decision not to renew grazing leases has sparked outrage among cattlemen, their supporters and farming groups.
The Federal Government has also condemned the ban and is seeking to overrule it through an emergency listing of the cattlemen's heritage under the National Heritage Act.
Third generation cattleman Chris Stoney said the ban was ``a kick in the guts'' and it was time to rise up against the Government.
``One by one, it (the Government) is picking us off,'' Mr Stoney said. ``The only way to tell this Government to pull its head in is to vote with our feet.''
Mr Weller said farmers were sick of being ignored by the Government.
``The state has ignored us on drought. We now have to have permits for ripping rabbit burrows. They have ignored us on wild dogs,'' Mr Weller said.  ``The Child Employment Bill, (Port Phillip Bay) channel deepening has been put on hold (and) rail standardisation was a promise they never kept. ``They have refused extra funding for rural roads and (there is) a lack of funds for (the control) of weeds and feral animals.''
Cattlemen’s ride is for country Vic: Enough is enough!  Victorian Farmers Federation.  June 2 2005
The Bracks Government has forgotten there are people living beyond the tram tracks of Melbourne.
Victorian Farmers Federation President, Paul Weller, said rural people are doing it tough and a range of poor Government policies is only making life more difficult.
“Enough is enough and I call on rural Victorians to join the VFF and hundreds of mountain cattlemen at a rally in Melbourne next Thursday,” Mr Weller said.
Mr Weller said the purpose of the rally is to voice country Victoria’s frustration at the Bracks Government’s lack of support.
“The decision to ban cattle grazing in the Alpine National Park is just the start of a long list of sorry acts this Government has done to kill the country,” Mr Weller said.
“There has been no Victorian Government drought relief for farmers and nowhere near enough support for farmers to comply with the requirements in the Water White Paper, such as water metering.
“Country roads are falling into disrepair and there was no new money in this years’ Budget to make rural roads safer.
“We can’t rip a rabbit burrow without getting permission, and we’re about to get more ridiculous red tape to manage native vegetation on our farms.”
Mr Weller said the State Government needs to remember that Victorian farmers feed the world.
“In 2002/2003 Victorian farmers made a $7.5 billion dollar contribution to the State’s economy,” Mr Weller said.
“Farmers are also responsible for almost one third of Victoria’s total exports.”
Buses are being organised throughout Victoria to bring members to the rally. If you would like to join members on the bus, contact the VFF on 1300 882 833 or go to go to www.vff.org.au and on the home page click on “Cattlemen Rally” to find out where the buses will be coordinated from. Please note that buses will be available subject to demand in each region.
Members attending the rally are asked to congregate at Parliament House Gardens by 10.30am. Riders will depart Vodafone Arena at 11am and will join protestors outside Parliament House at noon.
The Herald Sun.  Cat's claws behind graziers.  Sam Edmund.  02jun05

GEELONG big man Brad Ottens has thrown his weight behind Victorian cattlemen.
The 25-year-old star forward came to the aid of the stricken mountain men yesterday as they faced life bans from grazing.
"I grew up in the Northern Territory, I'm from the bush and I just want the country to be heard," Ottens said.
Cattle grazing in Victoria's largest park -- the Alpine National Park -- will be banned forever when all existing 61 licences expire by next June.
The State Government last week cited science and a need to preserve the park from the damage caused by grazing as reasons for the ban, a view supported by environment groups.
Opponents have called the decision an ideological sell-out that will destroy 170 years of tradition.
Support: Brad Ottens has thrown his weight behind Victorian cattlemen.Picture: David Caird
More than 600 cattlemen and women on horseback are expected to march over the Bolte Bridge to the steps of Parliament House in protest on June 9.
Ottens said he fully supported the rally. The former Richmond player was born in Darwin and spent most of his childhood on the farming plains of the Northern Territory. Ottens' childhood home was a 240,000ha property 400km south of Katherine, where his father, Dean, and mother, Margot, ran 2000 head of cattle. Life on the property meant everyone had to grow up very quickly. Ottens learned to drive a car when he was five and, by nine, he was able to help with fencing and mustering, branding and injecting cattle.
Message from the Lovick Family.

As many of you will already be aware, the Bracks labour government has declared that cattle grazing will no longer be permitted in our Alpine National Parks. This devastating news was released on Tuesday, and has left us determined to fight what is essentially a politically motivated attack on a 170 year tradition in Victoria.

The Lovick family has been taking cattle into the bush since the mid 1800’s; over five generations of the family, and have in recent times we have shared the experience with guests and friends of our horse riding business. We have always maintained an active interest in the health of the bush ecosystem, and have been careful to manage the impact of our cattle in the bush.

The benefits of their presence have been ignored by the Alpine Grazing Task Force, which was commissioned to look into the impacts of grazing. We know that fire risk in the bush is minimised by cattle, and that they have been a part of this delicate system for so long that they are now an integral part of it.

Many articles have appeared in the media over the past week. One which features Charlie in the Herald Sun on Thursday, 26th of May exposes some of the dirty tricks employed by the government to support their $250,000 advertising campaign on the issue featuring doctored pictures of the high country. Clearly this is a huge and patronising waste of your taxpayer’s money!

So many of our loyal friends have been kind enough to phone and email over the past few days to show their support, and to ask what can be done about it. In answer to this question, we have a few suggestions for you.

Firstly, you can lobby your local member by writing, phoning or emailing them. Don’t be afraid to be a pest – this is the only way to get satisfaction! Make them respond, and don’t be put off by political grandstanding.

Secondly, write a letter to the editor of your local and national newspapers, and phone up talkback radio to take the opportunity to air your feelings about the ban on cattle. We need to get the message out to as many people as possible that this ban is unjustified by the scientific evidence of the Alpine Grazing Taskforce.

Thirdly, the MCAV has planned a rally to take place in Melbourne ON Thursday the 9th of June. We anticipate that this will be enormous, as there is such a groundswell of support for our cause. Imagine the impact of 1,000 people on horses, with a crowd of 50,000 people on foot. Such an event would certainly have an impact on the public conscience as well as on the political decision makers. Information about the rally is contained in a press release from the group Country Voice, which has been included at the end of this newsletter.

The support of each and every one of you is important – if you value the time you have spent with us in the bush, now is the time to stand up and be counted! We need every person to help by attending the rally. Take this issue personally, and make a stand!

This is only the beginning, as there may be a time in the not too distant future when even the riding of horses in national parks is banned. From that point, it is only a short leap to find 4WD and motorbikes eliminated from the park too.

As you may know, we have already compiled a schedule for the rides for next season. This includes the usual cattle drive and muster.  We are very determined that these rides will go ahead, but will have some changes made to their itinerary to accommodate the ban. Stand by for more info in our next newsletter. 

Thank you once again for your support, The Lovick family.
The Australian.  No more movement at this station.  By:Michael Bachelard,Victorian political reporter.  May 25, 2005
THE Man from Snowy River will ride for the last time next year and the 170-year tradition of high country grazing will die as Victoria bans mountain cattlemen from the state's massive Alpine National Park.

Devastated farmer Bruce McCormack talked about abandoning his family's century-old cattle business as green groups finally prevailed yesterday in their calls to ban cattle from using the high country for summer pasture.
The last of the mountain cattlemen will lose the right to use the national park by June next year as the last of 61 grazing licences expires, never to be renewed.
Victoria is the last state to ban the practice, which NSW stopped in 1972 and the ACT almost 100 years ago.
Almost 8000 head of cattle are allowed to graze in the massive Victorian park, which spans 660,000ha from near Mansfield in the east to the NSW border in the west, though that number has been cut since the devastating 2003 bushfires. But 10,000 cattle will still be allowed to graze in the state forest nearby.
Most of the licences will expire in August, and the remaining four in June next year.
The ban, which was applauded by green groups, is to protect the soil, streams and river heads in the park, and to prevent cattle trampling or eating mossbeds, native herbs and flowers, and spreading weeds.
State Environment Minister John Thwaites said the scientific evidence was "conclusive and unanimous" that a ban was needed to protect the alpine environment. The Government will pay farmers a "transition package" of $100 per head of cattle, part of a $5.4million package over four years to control weeds, rehabilitate damaged areas and maintain historic huts.
But for the McCormack family the decision is a tragedy. Bruce and his forebears have worked the high country for more than a century, and for another few months he and his son still hold a licence to graze 111 cattle in the park.
"We've got to wonder if we sell everything now," he said from his mother's home in the village of Merrijig yesterday.
"I'm fifth generation in this area, my kids are sixth generation, and the seventh generation is seven months old. It's something we've grown up with. We love it and care for it a fair bit, and to have someone taking it away from us, it's just devastating."
Mr McCormack, who also takes trail rides of tourists into the mountains, says he is not sure if he will continue that business either.
"Right now I'm seriously considering getting out of trail riding. I can't see myself doing it without cattle around. How can I go up there and put my heart and soul into it?
"We don't have much history - we're only 200 years old - and now Thwaites has driven a knife into it."
He said the Government would get a serious electoral backlash from country areas.
Victorian Nationals leader Peter Ryan said: "Steve Bracks will go down in history as the man who killed the Man from Snowy River."
Who killed the man from Snowy River?  ABC RADIO VICTORIA Tuesday, 31 May  2005 Presenter: Kathy Bedford Researcher: Renee Krosch
Have we got reality and fantasy confused?
When the State Government decided to ban grazing in the Alpine National Park, Peter Ryan, leader of the Victorian National Party, said that Steve Bracks will go down in history as "the man who killed the man from Snowy River".
Well the man who played the man from Snowy River is certainly alive and kicking...
Tom Burlinson, played the role in his first feature film in 1982. But now, he heads the real mountain cattlemen of Victoria in their fight against the ban.
Are the cattlemen stretching the myth too far?
Tom Burlinson doesn't think so.
“Of course I was just acting a role but it was something that went straight to my heart", Tom Says. "Here I am 20 something years later after the making of the first film saying this is something that is still important to me and I think is very important to a lot of Victorians and should be very important to a lot of Australians. Here is an imagery and a tradition that has been spread across the world as an Australian icon, that’s something that must be protected. The mountain cattlemen logo is they 'care for the high country'. I’ve seen that first hand. They look after their land and they have a close connection with their land. To summarily take them away from this history and their family traditions; I just think it’s wrong.”
And will we be hearing more from Tom?
"I’m well versed in the argument here", Tom says. "If I stand up publicly in support of a cause I better know what I’m talking about and be prepared."
(See in the links at top of page to go to the whole interview on Real player)
The Border Mail  Wed, Jun 01, 2005  Stars rally for alpine grazing  By DI THOMAS and AAP
MOUNTAIN cattlemen will be joined by the cinematic Man from Snowy River, Tom Burlinson, and AFL identities in a march on Victorias Parliament House next week.
Burlinson, Billy Brownless, Tim Watson and Josh Fraser will be part of a|ride next Thursday protesting the banning of grazing in Alpine National Park.
The cattlemen and their supporters will leave from the Olympic Park precinct at 11am and will be met by a guard of honour at Parliament House.
The spokesman for Country Voice, the group representing the cattlemen, Chris Stoney, a third generation cattleman described the Victorian Governments decision as “nothing short of a kick in the guts”.
Mr Stoney said hundreds were expected to arrive at the rally on horseback.
“The compensation package promised by the Government is insulting to affected families, most of whom will receive less than half the speculated $100,000 the Government would have us believe,” he said.
“The so-called 10,000 cattle to be retained in state forests is a practical nonsense for most families, as the areas are directly adjacent to national parks with only an invisible border between the two.”
Mr Stoney said all Victorians were invited to march with members of Country Voice and join them in expressing|their opposition to the decision.
“This should be a warning for all country Victorians that this Government does not have their interests at heart.
“We fear this is only|the thin end of the wedge.”
Victorian Liberal leader Robert Doyle will travel to the Alpine National Park this morning to address a meeting of mountain cattlemen and listen to their concerns following the Victorian Government decision.
Mr Doyle will be joined by shadow minister for country Victoria and agriculture, Philip Davis and member for Central Highlands, Graeme Stoney.
News articles and photos from the June 9 rally to Parliament House
The Age.  Has Bracks lost the Bush?  June 8, 2005
Railing against the Government: Fourth-generation farmer Hamish McMillan (LEFT), who will join country protesters outside Parliament House today.  Photo: John Woudstra
Country Victorians will rally in Melbourne today to protest that the State Government doesn't listen to them. So have the people who helped elect Steve Bracks turned against him? By Farrah Tomazin and Mathew Murphy.
At 7 o'clock this morning, sheep and cattle farmer Hamish McMillan will leave his 730-hectare property and embark on a 2-hour drive from Benalla to Spring Street. On the steps of Parliament House, he will be joined by hundreds — perhaps thousands — of country Victorians making a similar journey to protest against a Government they believe is turning its back on the bush.
Herald Sun.  Angry cattlemen coming to town.  Mary Bolling  08jun05
THOUSANDS of rural Victorians plan to protest in Melbourne tomorrow, and are asking for city-dwellers to support their fight.
Hundreds on horseback are expected to lead the Country Voice protest against a ban on alpine cattle-grazing.
The cattlemen will be supported by actors Tom Burlinson, Kate Kendall and Peter Phelps.
Banjo Paterson's iconic poem The Man from Snowy River is expected to be recited at the mass protest.
Organisers accuse the Bracks Government of ignoring country Victorians.
More than 30 rural and regional groups are supporting the rally.
Country Voice organiser Kersten Gentle said:"This is not a fight against the city people, it's a fight for the country people.
"Thanks to the Bracks Government's arrogance to rural communities, they have united rural Victoria like no one else ever has."
The protest starts at 11am at Parliament House.
The Federal Government is expected to decide by Friday whether to grant the cattlemen emergency heritage listing, allowing them to continue their traditional high country cattle grazing.
ABC Vic. Cattlemen to stage horseback protest over alpine grazing ban
9 June 2005. 08:00 (AEST)
About 400 cattlemen on horseback will ride to Parliament House in Melbourne today to protest against the ban on grazing in Victoria's Alpine National Park.
Two weeks ago the Victorian Government announced the alpine grazing bans, saying the 170-year-old tradition is destroying the national park and its waterways.
The men who have made alpine grazing their livelihood fear the legislation will be rushed through Parliament next week.
They will muster at Spring Street in a bid to change the Government's mind.
Victorian Farmers Federation president Paul Weller says it will be a rare sight.
"To see between 300 and 400 horses parade up Flinders Street round Swanston and then come to Parliament House, unfortunately [for] the cattlemen it may be their last ride," he said.
The rally has also grown into a forum for a country-based lobby groups unhappy with their treatment by the State Government, including timber communities, sporting shooters, bush users, prospectors, miners and beekeepers.
But Mr Weller says while the groups will be voicing their concerns, they will not overshadow the mountain cattlemen.
"I think it will be hard to ignore the 300 to 400 horses," he said.
Meanwhile, Federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell is expected to announce shortly whether he will grant alpine grazing national heritage listing.
The cattlemen asked Senator Campbell to include them on the list, in a last-ditch bid to force the Victorian Government to renew their licences.
Senator Campbell said he would announce his decision in 10 days, which is today.
HERALD SUN Cattlemen gather for protest ride  09jun05
MOUNTAIN cattlemen are gathering on the outskirts of Melbourne this morning preparing for a protest ride against the State Government's ban on grazing in Victoria's alpine national park.
Close to 400 horsemen will brave the rain and converge on Parliament House this morning at after a group ride from the Olympic Park precinct.
They will be met by Wilderness Society members wearing cow masks and holding banners in support of the State Government's decision.
The Victorian Government has said it will not renew licences for 8000 cattle as they expire this year and next year due to environmental concerns.
Country Voice rally organiser Chris Stoney, a third-generation cattleman, said the ban struck at the heart of mountain communities' 170-year-old way of life.
And the cattlemen have already won a strong ally in Federal Environment and Heritage Minister Ian Campbell, who will announce today or Friday whether he will issue an emergency heritage listing allowing grazing to continue in recognition of its social and cultural heritage value.
But Premier Steve Bracks yesterday defended the ban as fair and said 10,000 cattle "and possibly more" would still be allowed to graze in state forest areas outside the national park.
Meanwhile, television personalities will join with environment and conservation groups in Carlton this morning to begin a campaign for World Heritage listing of the Australian Alps.
"We need such national co-operation to protect the Alpine National Park for future generations, and a World Heritage listing is the very best way to go about this," Blue Heelers actor John Wood, a spokesman for Alpine Alliance, said.
"This is a very sensitive eco-system and with a World Heritage listing, eventually we will win."
THE AGE Spurned bushies spur mates to town. By Melissa Fyfe, Melissa Marino
June 9, 2005
Mountain cattleman Chris Stoney said he "howled all day and all night" when grazing was banned in the Alpine National Park last month. But within days of the State Government's decision, Mr Stoney had tapped into his influential networks - it was time to fight back.
Last night, dozens of horses and cattlemen families were camping on the outskirts of Melbourne, preparing for a dawn convoy to the city.
When they arrive at Parliament today they will be supported by a well-oiled public relations machine, celebrities and more than 20 groups that have gripes against the Government.
And Mr Stoney, son of state Liberal MP Graeme Stoney, is the man behind much of it. In the past few weeks, the farmer has called on people who have shared his campfire on high-country horse rides, and some well-placed mates.
Free public relations advice came courtesy of Stephen Kerr, son of the late PR guru Laurie Kerr. Close mate Craig Kelly, a former AFL footballer who owns a house in Mr Stoney's home town of Mansfield, rallied celebrity friends to the cattlemen's cause. As a director at Elite Sports Properties, the management group to a stable of dozens of sporting and media stars, Mr Kelly was a handy ally.
"It's supporting mates who have involvement in the land up there," says retired footballer Garry Lyon, ESP client and friend of Mr Kelly and Mr Stoney. Also lending their support are motor racing star Mark Skaife, another ESP client, and Channel Nine Postcards presenter Bridget McIntyre.
Kate Kendall, a friend of the Stoneys for years, and former Stingers cast-mate Peter Phelps, who has also been on the horse rides, have joined actors John Waters and Tom Burlinson in offering support on the rally's website.
As the cattlemen gathered last night - at farms in Mickleham and Berwick, complete with a barn bar, music and bonfires - fifth-generation cattleman Charlie Lovick said he was buoyed by the crowd.
"Once you get bush people together and generate a camp atmosphere, this is where people march out to war from. They know they have their mates here beside them."
The cattlemen have always promised that, if spurned, they would take their horses to Parliament House - as they did 20 years ago to protest against the creation of a national park. But this time they bring many mates. The issue, it seems, is a lightning rod for many country Victorians with a grievance against the State Government. From Cohuna to Licola, they will travel today: timber cutters, hunters, four-wheel-drivers, miners, motorcycle trail riders, farmers, irrigators, even beekeepers.
One might ask why the beekeepers are angry. Their story is a sketch of the bigger, disaffected picture. Generally, they have been allowed access to national parks, but it has been recommended they not be given access to the Bracks Government's expanded Angahook-Otway park.
So, in a recent meeting, the Victorian Apiarist Association decided to support the cattlemen.
"We feel that the Government's attitude to any commercial operation in national parks is changing and we feel a lot more vulnerable than we did in the past," said the association's resources chairman, Bob McDonald, who will be at the rally today.
Marching under the newly formed umbrella group Country Voice (slogan: "Enough is Enough"), the loose coalition of 23 groups will bring their wrath to Spring Street on issues such as toxic waste dumps, child employment laws, water reform, wind farms, green wedge issues, wild dogs, drought funding, tree-clearing regulations and expanding national parks.
Recurring sentiments run through these issues. There's the feeling of being "locked out" of national parks and not being listened to, despite the State Government's fondness for "stakeholder consultation".
There's the old railing against the bureaucracy of Parks Victoria and the Department of Sustainability and Environment. And then there's just the plain "them and us".
"The Bracks Government and conservationists don't like our culture," said Bob Richardson, president of the Bush Users Group. "They don't like people who four-wheel-drive, hunt or walk dogs in the forest. People are seeing this very much as not only a loss of livelihood or hobbies, but (the Government) does not even like our culture and want to keep the land for themselves."
How far this discontent spreads across country Victoria will only be known at the ballot box in the next election. But in the meantime, the cattle-grazing decision - which the Bracks Government says will secure a healthy future for the Alpine National Park - has created a public relations nightmare for a party that prides itself on looking after regional Victoria.
And there are signs that the Bracks Government is concerned. Yesterday, Premier Steve Bracks announced that he and Environment Minister John Thwaites would meet a delegation of cattlemen after the rally to discuss their concerns. This would not be a backdown but a discussion about access to state forests, where 10,000 cattle are still allowed to graze.
Mr Thwaites said the Government was prepared to listen to concerns of country Victorians, particularly in these hard times of drought. But he said the Government had improved infrastructure, schools and hospitals in regional Victoria and had not shut people out of parks.
"We are looking to encourage more recreational use of parks, not less," he said.
The Victorian National Parks Association, which has driven the campaign to get cattle out of the park, said the interests of millions of Victorians who visited the park outweighed those of 45 cattlemen families who will lose their licences.
"Protecting the environment, our water and our soils, is a very important responsibility of government, both in the city and regional Victoria," said association director Charlie Sherwin.
When the State Government announced its decision late in May, the cattlemen found themselves flooded with sympathy from the Bush Users Group, Timber Communities Australia, the Sporting Shooters Association and the Victorian Farmers Federation, among others. A few days later, the groups had met in Melbourne and hatched the rally plan.
The farmers' federation has organised buses to take people to the city today (participants have been told to "wear country clothes"). Federation president Paul Weller said country Victoria had had enough of "these types of decisions".
"The message is 'start listening to rural Victoria or we will be here again'," Mr Weller said.
"They (the Government) need to acknowledge that there is a backlash against them in rural Victoria . . . unless people feel as though their issues are being heard and responded to, obviously it will be played out at the ballot box."
Also throwing support behind the rally is the Liberal Party and Nationals leader Peter Ryan, who has recently taken to calling the Bracks Government "Melbourne Labor".
ABC Victoria. Mountain cattlemen garner support for protest.  9 June 2005. 12:23
Several hundred people mounted on horses are protesting in central Melbourne.
They are angry at the Victorian Government's decision to end cattle grazing in the Alpine National Park.
After riding through the city, Victoria's mountain cattlemen and their supporters are rallying outside State Parliament at a protest featuring country singing and whipcracking.
They say the decision to end grazing in the alpine park destroys an important part of their heritage.
Today they have got the support of the actor who played Tom Burlinson.The Man from Snowy River
"I'm here to support my friends, the Lovicks in particular, who taught me how to ride and a whole range of practical skills that I used in and showed me their way, showed me their lifestyle," Mr Burlinson said.The Man from Snowy River
The Government says removing cattle from the national park will protect the environment and says it will allow grazing to continue in the high country outside the national park.
Meanwhile a group of prominent Australians, environment and heritage groups has formed to oppose the cattlemen.
The Alpine Alliance says it will fight for Victoria's Alpine National Park to be World Heritage listed now that grazing has been banned.
Football legend Ron Barassi is one of the members and he says it is a myth that the high country cattlemen will lose their heritage.
"You'll still have the people on the horses, you'll still have the cows in the high country but they'll be on the state section not the national section," Mr Barassi said.
"So it's not as though we're going lose our way of life and if we did... in my opinion because Australia's a special place and these are some of the special things that make it a special place, but it's still going to be the same."
Herald Sun.  Celebrity clash over Alpine grazing  09jun05
CELEBRITIES rallied behind opposing protests in Melbourne today over the future of alpine grazing in Victoria.
Hundreds of mountain cattlemen gathered at Parliament House in a horseback protest against the outlawing of mountain cattle grazing, which they say will end their traditional livelihood.
The horsemen filed past parliament house as Banjo Patterson's poem The Man from Snowy River was read out to the crowd.
Heading the procession was actor Tom Burlinson, star of the 1982 film The Man from Snowy River, who was expected to address a rally of disgruntled country Victorians over the issue.
Environmentalists who support the ban were also planning to gather outside parliament.
Not far away, popular actor John Wood and other celebrities made a pre-emptive bid to publicise their support for the government ban.
The Blue Heelers star was joined outside Melbourne's Exhibition Building by celebrity weatherman Rob Gell and Australian Rules football legend Ron Barassi.
Mr Wood is part of the newly formed Alpine Alliance, which is pushing for the Victorian Alpine National Park to gain world heritage listing.
The TV star has his own country property and he recounted how he recently set some of his own cows loose in the vineyard to clean it up.
"They did that pretty quickly and then they started demolishing the garden," he told a small group of environmentalists. "After two days in the garden, believe me the damage they did you wouldn't want them in your park."
Mr Wood also tried to debunk some of the mythology of the mountain cattlemen, immortalised in Paterson's poem. "There is no mention of a single cow in that poem.
"Not one except in a passing reference to Clancy having done a bit of droving out on the plains."
Football identity Ron Barassi also joined the fray, saying the cattlemen's legacy should be protected – as long as it was done outside the park.
Barassi said he was country born and bred and the rural way of life should be cherished. "I'm for that 110 per cent." he said. "We wouldn't want that to disappear.
"That is not going to happen with this thing we're talking about here. You'll still have the people on the horses, you'll still have the cows in the high country. They'd be on the state section not the national section."
The Age.  Coalition vows to restore grazing rights.  By Farrah Tomazin
June 9, 2005 - 3:01PM
A Liberal-National Government would overturn the contentious ban on cattle grazing in the Alpine National Park, and restore a 170-year tradition to Victoria's high country.
Speaking at the cattlemen's rally at Parliament House today, Opposition Leader Robert Doyle and Nationals leader Peter Ryan both pledged to restore cattle grazing in the park should they win government at the 2006 state election.
"Let me tell you this: when we return to Government - and we will - we will overturn this decision and return Alpine grazing,'' Mr Doyle told the cheering crowd.
"We're with you shoulder to shoulder, all the way through the fight, because enough is enough.''
Mr Ryan made the same pledge, while challenging country-based Labor backbenchers to cross the floor when the bill to ban alpine grazing is debated in State Parliament next week.
"What they ought to do is join us . . . and make sure that this fantastic Australian tradition is able to survive for all time, because that's the way it should happen. Like Robert Doyle, given the chance, we will get these people back where they belong. They are part of our living heritage,'' Mr Ryan said.
Herald Sun.  Mountain men in city protest.  Milanda Rout.  10jun05
THEY saddled up and rode to town and they were men on a mission.
Country came to the city yesterday as 500 mountain cattlemen rode in protest at the grazing ban in the Alpine National Park.
The angry horsemen, women and children brought the city to a standstill when they mustered on the steps of Parliament.
The star of film The Man from Snowy River Tom Burlison and actor Kate Kendall led the group from the MCG to the top of town.
They were greeted by hundreds of country Victorians also rallying against the Bracks Government's decision not to renew grazing licences for 8000 cattle in the Alpine National Park.
The protesters, a sea of Akubra hats and Driza-Bones, recited Banjo Paterson's famous poem as the cattlemen reached parliament.
A small group of conservationists were among the crowd -- and actor John Wood, Ron Barassi and weatherman Rob Gell joined an alternative rally supporting the cattle grazing ban.
But the day belonged to the cattlemen, who heard war cries from Opposition Leader Robert Doyle, Nationals leader Peter Ryan and grazing licence holders.
Mountain cattleman Trevor Davis was brought to tears as he talked about losing his alpine grazing licence.
"I am sick of this struggle," he told the crowd. "There is only one thing that has brought me back up again -- the support here today."
Another affected farmer, Lyric Mitchell, said she was a fifth generation mountain cattlewoman. "This decision is a family tragedy for my mother, brother and me," she said. "But it's so much more than that -- it is a tragedy for Australia."
Mountain Cattlemen's Association of Victoria president Simon Turner urged Premier Steve Bracks to renew their licences.
But the Bracks Government is standing firm behind the ban.
"It's the right decision," Environment Minister John Thwaites said yesterday. "It's a decision in the future that Victorians will thank us for."
He said cattle grazing would continue in the high country, but in state forests rather than the national park.
But Mr Doyle promised the protesters he would reinstate their licences if the Liberal Party regained power.
"This is going to a be a long fight and a hard fight," he said.
Mr Ryan said country Victoria had had enough of the Government's policies.
"Is Steve Bracks going to go down in history as the man who killed The Man from Snowy River?" he shouted to the crowd.
"You must keep up hope. This is not the end."
Actor Tom Burlinson said he was proud to protest with the mountain cattlemen.
"I believe rich heritage should be preserved not legislated out of existence," he said.
But across town in the Carlton Gardens, a smaller group of protesters made a plea in support of the ban.
Football legend Ron Barassi said it seemed "strange" to allow cattle in the national park when they were doing such damage.
"And that's why I am supporting it," he said. "It is a very very worthwhile cause."
Barassi is part of the newly formed Alpine Alliance, which is pushing for the Victorian Alpine National Park to gain world heritage listing.
Federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell is due to make a decision on an emergency heritage listing for the mountain cattlemen's alpine grazing today.
A meeting was held late yesterday between mountain cattlemen representatives, the Premier and Mr Thwaites.
A spokesman for Mr Thwaites said the Government made it clear the ban would remain.
He said they also agreed to work with the cattlemen on arrangements for grazing in neighbouring state forests.
Herald Sun.  Wisdom from on high. Terry Brown  10jun05
THERE was a movement at the station, all right. A few, actually.
That's what happens when the bush comes to town and brings 500 horses along.
A cocky picked a pile up with a shovel and turfed it on a heap in the back of a ute.
"Mobile Parliament -- Bull crap fed in and bad decisions made", a sign on the ute read.
Plenty was being flung near Parliament Station yesterday, and there were some dubious decisions.
Metres from its entrance, a few greenies were taking their chances amid a sea of discontent and Akubras.
"170 years of erosion," one green sign read. "Cattlemen care for the alps, but the cattle don't", said another.
Behind them, though, a smaller sign calmly retaliated: "Greens tell lies".
Bob Richardson, of the Bush Users Group, labelled the greenies "those whackers over there", but the crowd of 1500 -- 500 of them mounted -- let the dissenters be.
They were determined to make a good impression to the point of picking up after their horses.
In what was as much a PR exercise as a political rally, they were out to win over city folk.
Ahead of the rally, about 500 mountain cattlemen and women mustered beside the MCG.
About 200 camped overnight, sleeping in swags, horse floats and trucks.
Posters were passed around: "Wanted -- Steve Bracks for killing The Man from Snowy River". "Fertilise the bush -- doze in a greenie," a bumper sticker read.
Someone had painted the words "jobless horse" on a chestnut's flank, but the mood wasn't angry.
Horses snorted in the drizzle. Some picked lazily at the turf as a line formed quietly for a parade through town.
At 11am, the 2000 hoofs clattered along the wet asphalt towards the city.
Police horses, slick, groomed, in show condition, led wet, bedraggled mountain horses. Weather-beaten riders passed 4WDs unmarked by mud and latte bars, to calls of support.
"Sorry about the rain," one woman sympathised cluelessly from a kerb.
"Love it!" a cattleman shot back cheerfully from a rare sort of parade that prays for it.
"Good on ya, boys," a town hall worker cried out.
"Give 'em curry," an onlooker encouraged.
A bloke in Swanston St outside the Lush shop livened things up with a phantom race call in a nasal voice, and cattlemen grinned.
At the front, Charlie Lovick called out as police halted the parade up for five minutes.
"Can someone get us 500 coffees?" he asked a seasoned city slicker.
Cheers, more signs, and all 13 verses of The Man from Snowy River read out en-masse met the riders at Parliament.
"Yabby Farming Stuffed Too," one sign moaned. "No Wind Turbines," a few protested. From toxic dumps to child labour laws, the bush brought out its gripes.
"Prisoner exchange: Bracks for Crowe," a funny sign urged, but a speech by Trevor Davis took the smiles away.
Hailing from the most remote property in the alps, Tom Groggin station, he spoke of his crook run -- drought, fires then drought again.
"We shot, I dunno, 170 head of cattle, my wife and myself, because we couldn't find agistment," he said, voice wavering.
"Then $400,000 for us to build it up, for what? For Mr Bracks to take it away again."
"Show your face, Bracks," a man demanded fruitlessly.
Then riders turned their mounts to the MCG, leaving signs, posters and The Man from Snowy River's words on green printed sheets.
And a lingering stable smell for the Premier.
The Age. Govts tussle over Alpine grazing.  By Nick Lenaghan and Tim Clarke
June 10, 2005 - 5:10PM
LEFT: Mick Allman, one of the 600 Mountain Cattlemen that marched his horse towards Parliament in protest of the Brack s Government's decision to ban grazing in the Alpine National Park. Photo: Arsineh Houspian
The federal government today challenged a Victorian ban on cattle in the state's Alpine National Park, issuing an emergency heritage listing to protect the traditional summer musters.
The high country dispute between Canberra and Melbourne could now end up in the High Court if federal Environment and Heritage Minister Ian Campbell decides to make today's heritage listing permanent.
The federal challenge follows yesterday's mounted protest by hundreds of mountain cattlemen through the streets of Melbourne.
The Victorian government has banned cattle grazing in the national park to protect its fragile ecosystem, but cattlemen hope the heritage listing will now preserve their 170-year-old tradition.
Premier Steve Bracks and his Environment Minister John Thwaites immediately rejected Senator Campbell's move as a political stunt and denied a heritage listing could force them to let the cattle back.
"It makes no difference," Mr Bracks said. "We made this decision as the licences are expiring in the high country. The federal government can't force our hand to issue new licences."
But Senator Campbell in turn dismissed those claims as he initiated a process that could result in a permanent heritage listing protecting the mountain cattlemen's alpine tradition.
"The legal practicalities of the implementation are things to be worked out down the track, but now this is the first step in the process of the first listing in Australian history of an activity," he told reporters in Perth. "That activity is grazing in the high country. The activity of mountain cattlemen has been going on for 170 years - it is now, because of my declaration, regarded as a part of an important Australian heritage."
Like the Victorian government, Senator Campbell said he too had taken legal advice backing his move and criticised the grazing ban as "a clear threat to the historic heritage values".
Senator Campbell also warned during an interview on Southern Cross Broadcasting of a potential "legal clash between Commonwealth and state law".
Hundreds of mountain cattlemen and women who staged a horseback protest outside state parliament yesterday welcomed the federal intervention but are uncertain it is enough to save them.
Mountain Cattlemen's Association of Victoria president Simon Turner said the state government should now drop its ban, due to come into effect as grazing licences expire, and start working on a compromise.
"At the end of the day, we should remember that the land was good enough, with alpine grazing, to be proclaimed as a national park," Mr Turner said.
The Victorian National Parks Association (VNPA) supports the grazing ban and wants the Australian Alps, including areas in the ACT and NSW, to be put forward for world heritage listing.
"But unless cattle are removed from the Alpine National Park, world heritage listing could not succeed," VNPA director Charlie Sherwin said.
Senator Campbell will decide whether to include the park on the National Heritage List permanently after an assessment by the Australian Heritage Council, due within 40 days.
However, the council has already offered an early opinion in the heritage debate through its submission to the Victorian government's alpine grazing taskforce last year.
The council's chairman Tom Harley said then that Victoria's alpine grazing leases had "unquestioned cultural heritage value".
But he went on to note the heritage benefits from grazing "would appear to be more than outweighed by the adverse impact of the activity on the natural heritage values of the alpine and sub-alpine areas".
The Australian.  Bush anger rides into town.  By Natasha Robinson. June 10, 2005
THE wrath of the bush was felt in the heart of Melbourne yesterday as a rally of high-country cattlemen became a lightning rod for rural discontent.
Five hundred protesters riding draughthorses, shetland ponies and dappled mares rode through the city at noon, protesting against the Bracks Government's decision to ban grazing in the Alpine National Park.
They clutched signs that read: "Farmers won't be looked after until cities starve!"; "We can't let Melbourne run country Victoria"; and "Wanted: Steve Bracks, for killing the Man from Snowy River".
Cattlemen believe the ban will relegate 170 years of living culture to the history books. They argue that generations of their families have acted as custodians of the land, with the highest standards of environmental responsibility.
The graziers have lobbied federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell to step in, and he has voiced his support of their plight - even agreeing to a request to mount a horse and frolic on the federal parliamentary lawn.
Senator Campbell said yesterday he would consider making an emergency application to preserve the lifestyles of high-country cattlemen under national heritage listings. Such a move would set the stage for a showdown with Mr Bracks.
Senator Campbell will announce today whether the Government will take such an emergency measure. But yesterday's protest was about more than the threat to alpine grazing. Victorian National Party leader Peter Ryan called the issue "the lightning rod" that gave air to a litany of rural grievances.
Odious occupational health and safety regulations on farmers, overly stringent native vegetation regulations, resentment at toxic waste dump plans and a lack of government support during the worst drought in decades were some of the other complaints given voice.
It was a vicious backlash in country electorates that destroyed the Kennett Government in 1999 after thousands of rural voters picked Labor or independent for the first time in reaction to the Liberals' perceived city-centrism.
The Bracks Government until now has assiduously, and successfully, courted the bush vote, but many ministers and backbenchers are concerned that the cattlemen could become a catalyst for anti-Labor sentiment in the country.
Speaking at the protest yesterday, actor Tom Burlinson, who starred in the 1982 film The Man from Snowy River, led the procession and warned that "little by little we are losing our national identity".
But not everyone agreed. Earlier in the day, Blue Heelers actor John Wood addressed a small gathering of conservationists, including AFL legend Ron Barassi, who welcomed the decision. Wood, who has his own country property, tried to debunk some of the mythology of the mountain cattlemen, immortalised in Paterson's poem.
"Yesterday I went home and re-read The Man from Snowy River," Wood said. "There is no mention of a single cow. Not one, except in a passing reference to Clancy having done a bit of droving out on the plains."
And a fellow farmer, Grampians grazier Tom Guthrie, agreed with the state Government's advice that alpine grazing was destroying the national park environment.
"Whilst I may be the only person (conservationist) here today wearing a Driza-Bone and an Akubra, there is a silent majority of farmers out there that are like me and are farming along the guidelines of the 21st century," he said.
The Victorian Government remained committed to its ban yesterday.
Victorian Environment Minister John Thwaites said cattle caused considerable damage to the national park.
The minister's spokesman said the Government had legal advice that "the federal Government cannot force the Victorian Government to renew the licences".
Wood, along with celebrity weatherman Rob Gell, Barassi and other luminaries, is working with the newly formed Alpine Alliance, which is pushing for the Victorian Alpine National Park to gain world heritage listing.
THE AGE.  Alpine heritage a 'hollow gesture'.  By Melissa Fyfe and Farrah Tomazin
June 11, 2005
The State Government's ban on cattle grazing in the Alpine National Park is likely to stay in place after legal experts yesterday dismissed an intervention from Canberra.
The Federal Government granted emergency heritage listing to the 660,550-hectare Alpine National Park.
Federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell said the park had equal environmental and historic values. "The Victorian Government's decision to ban grazing in the park poses a clear threat to the historic heritage values," he said.
But Senator Campbell could not explain how the park's heritage listing would overturn Victoria's ban. He said the "legal practicalities" had not been worked out.
Instead of battling the issue in court, he wanted to talk to the Victorian Government about modern management techniques to protect the environment while leaving cattle to graze in the park.
Heritage and environmental law experts told The Age that Canberra had no power to override the Victorian ban because federal legislation - the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act - explicitly did not override state laws.
The Bracks Government said it would stand by the ban after receiving similar advice from Victoria's Solicitor-General. Hundreds of people marched through the city in protest at the ban on Thursday.
University of Sydney heritage expert Professor Ben Boer and Brian Preston, SC, a barrister and academic in environmental law, said that under federal legislation the Victorian Government would not be bound to keep cattle grazing in the Alpine National Park.
But Mr Preston said there was a small chance of a constitutional challenge if the Commonwealth wanted to pursue it. Senator Campbell's office did not respond to requests for its legal advice on this issue.
The State Government must now know they are on the wrong horse.
- SIMON TURNER, cattleman
Professor Boer said that if grazing continued it would be difficult to gain World Heritage Listing for the Australian Alps, which Senator Campbell said he wanted to pursue.
Brisbane barrister Chris McGrath, who specialises in environment and heritage legislation, said the Federal Government's move was a "flag-waving exercise" devoid of practical help for farmers.
But mountain cattlemen welcomed Senator Campbell's intervention.
"The State Government must now know they are on the wrong horse with their decision," said Simon Turner, president of the cattlemen's association.
"It is time they joined us and worked on a compromise that will suit all parties," Mr Turner said.
State Environment Minister John Thwaites described Mr Campbell's actions as a political stunt that would ultimately backfire and had created false hope for the cattlemen.
Premier Steve Bracks said: "It will make no difference . . . the Federal Government can't force our hand to issue new licences."
The State Government cancelled cattle licences in the Alpine National Park because of damage to the environment. A scientific panel had recommended that most of the cattle be kept out of areas burnt in the 2003 bushfires for 10 years. About 10,000 cattle will remain in the high country state forest.
Senator Campbell's decision was criticised by Greens leader Bob Brown, who said his grandmother had danced with one of the men thought to be the Man from Snowy River.
The decision was evidence that politics overrode good environmental sense in Australia, he said.
Senator Campbell has referred the matter to the Australian Heritage Council. The council must provide its advice on whether to permanently list the park within the next 40 business days.
The council - and the minister's Department of Environment and Heritage - have previously said the heritage values of cattle grazing were outweighed by the damage it did to the natural values of the park.
Meanwhile, Victorian Liberal environment spokesman Phil Honeywood cast doubt on Opposition Leader Robert Doyle's promise to restore cattle grazing if the Liberals won government. Mr Honeywood said he supported the party's position, but questioned its practicality.
Tom waves from a river of Drizabone
Tom holds up an appropriate poster.
Tom has his say at the rally
Tom (centre), and Charlie Lovick (right) lead the procession thru Melbournes streets.
Tom addressing the crowd.