Native roadside vegetation laws must be lifted to allow farmers to utilise rural roadsides.
Shadow Assistant Minister for Public Land and The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Melina Bath is calling for vegetation protection laws which prevent roadside grazing to be lifted.
Ms Bath said when fodder for stock is limited and fuel reduction is desperately needed, it makes sense to change roadside grazing laws and allow stock to utilise the food source.
“Gippsland farmers impacted by drought and fire recently required urgent access to grazing due to contaminated water and a lack of fodder.
“There is abundant roadside vegetation across Victoria that could be accessed by fire-affected livestock,” Ms Bath said.
“The Minister for Environment needs to urgently facilitate the use of roadside vegetation by suspending onerous native vegetation regulations that severely restrict grazing.
“The Minister for Roads needs to instruct her agencies to facilitate droving and grazing on the roadsides of state and local roads.
Ms Bath said the benefits of grazing roadsides not only advantaged farmers and afflicted livestock but, could dramatically reduce fire risk posed by abundant native vegetation acting as a fuel load.
“We know that fuel reduction saves lives and regional communities are calling on the State Government for greater fuel reduction on road sides and throughout our public land.
“Local constituents have contacted my electoral office expressing concerns at the serious lack of roadside maintenance leading into and throughout fire season in Gippsland.
“Each year the community comment on the unsafe levels vegetation levels around rural roads.
“Current native vegetation laws that prohibit roadside grazing are ridiculous and can contribute to property losses during bushfires.
“We saw in East Gippsland where roadsides acted as a ‘wick’ that allowed the fire to keep burning from property to property.
“Clearing roadside vegetation through grazing would potentially acting as a fire break.
“Without heavy fuel loads on the roadsides due to laws that protected the vegetation fires can be much easier fought and extinguished.”