Support for motion could mean stay of execution for Barmah brumbies

By Sophie Baldwin

Supporters of Barmah's brumbies hope the animals will be granted a stay of execution after the Victorian upper house refused to support the Andrews Government’s plans to commence widespread culling of wild horses in Victoria’s High Country.

A motion last Wednesday, moved by State Member for Northern Victoria Wendy Lovell, called for "the Andrews Labor Government to cease its plan for the broad scale shooting of brumbies in Victorian national parks".

The Liberal MP's motion was supported by some Labor frontbenchers, who refused to vote in line with their party’s policy. The motion was also supported by Liberal Democrats.

Under the Barmah Strategic Action Plan, released earlier this year, Parks Victoria intends to ground or aerial shoot as many as 150 brumbies in the first year, as part of its management plan.

Supporters of the Barmah brumbies hope the High Country decision will halt the proposed Barmah shooting.

Barmah locals Kaye and Gerry Moor, who have spent the past 18 months feeding and supporting the local brumby population, said they were delighted with the news.

“I am at a loss for words but it is terrific,” Mrs Moor said.

“It is only a small step, and not a win, but it shows the power of what can happen when people stick together for a common cause.

“We have always called for sustainable populations and local consultation.”

Mrs Moor, along with Renee Neubauer, is heavily involved in the Facebook group Brumby Lives Matter, which has attracted more than 44 000 members in the past month.

Mrs Neubauer said they might have won a battle but not the war.

“We wanted this process to go through parliament,” Mrs Neubauer said.

“Wendy Lovell has achieved so much for the brumbies in the past two weeks, effectively Parks’ (Parks Victoria's) plans have been put on hold and a huge spanner has been thrown in the works.

“This is a whole new set of rules which has certainly put Parks on notice.”

She said members of the Facebook group sent more than 1000 emails to cross-benchers in support of a halt to shooting before Ms Lovell put forward her motion.

Barmah Brumby Preservation Group president Murray Willaton said this was a great step forward.

“This has put government on notice to consult with community rather than ramming policy down our throats,” Mr Willaton said.

He said a protest was still scheduled at the Barmah muster yards on Saturday, June 27 at noon.

Ms Lovell said she had fought for years to protect the brumbies.

“These proud animals are part of our culture and heritage and deserve better than Daniel Andrews’ planned execution,” she said.

“The government’s ill-conceived plan was contradicted by its own documents and now Labor MPs have, in effect, voted to cease the Andrews Labor Government plan to shoot our brumbies.”

Shadow Environment Minister Bridget Vallence said a cull was not the only option and government must stop the cull and engage with regional communities.

Parks Victoria was contacted for comment.