NSW Bill Introduced To Allow Kosciuszko Wild Horse Heritage To Be Preserved

Thursday 24 May 2018 @ 10.47 a.m. | Judiciary, Legal Profession & Procedure | Legal Research

On Wednesday (23 May 2018) the Deputy Premier of NSW, John Barilaro, introduced Kosciuszko Wild Horse Heritage Bill 2018 ("the Bill") into the NSW House of Assembly. In general terms the Bill is intended to recognise the heritage value of sustainable wild horse populations within certain parts of the Kosciuszko National Park and to protect that heritage through a wild horse heritage management plan. The Bill has become known as the "Brumbies Bill" and it requires the Minister for the Environment to prepare a heritage management plan for the wild horses known as brumbies. The plan is to identify areas within the Kosciuszko National Park where populations will be maintained, and set rules around brumby management.

Other Changes

Other changes proposed by the Bill include:

  • that future plans of management for the Kosciuszko National Park are to recognise the cultural significance of the Brumby;
  • the establishment of a Wild Horse Community Advisory Panel which is to counsel the Minister on appropriate management approaches   for the Brumby;
  • a research and monitoring program that scientifically informs future wild horse management plans;
  • a Brumby count to gain more accurate assessments of the number of Brumbies and where they range; and 
  • a marketing campaign to promote re-homing and adoption of brumbies that need to be removed from the park.

The new legislation is reported to flow from a two-year study of the Kosciuszko National Park and other parks, that found that the environmental impacts of the horse riding on set tracks were minimal. As a result of the study the Minister for the Environment, Gabrielle Upton, has already approved horse riding in four national parks – Kosciuszko, Deua, Monga, and Mummel Gulf and final arrangements should be ready by December 2018 when the formal consultation process and amended plans of management are complete.

Announcing the Bill at the Currango Plains in the Kosciuszko National Park the Deputy Premier said the new laws ". . . will finally end years of speculation around the culling of one of Australia’s national icons". In the government's view and according to the Deputy Premier:

“Wild brumbies have been roaming the Australian alps for almost 200 years and are part of the cultural fabric and folklore of the high country, . . .”.

The Deputy Premier indicated that the heritage management plan the Bill will help to create would prohibit lethal culling and adopt other measures to reduce herd numbers, saying:

“The heritage management plan will specifically prohibit lethal culling of the brumby, aerial or otherwise, and will identify those areas in the park where brumbies can roam without causing significant environmental harm, . . . If brumbies are found in highly-sensitive alpine areas of Kosciuszko National Park, resources will be allocated towards relocation first, followed by re-homing, should population numbers grow too high.

Commenting on the purpose of the Kosciuszko National Park the Deputy Premier said:  

“Kosciuszko National Park exists to protect the unique environment of the Snowy Mountains, and that unique environment includes wild brumbies, . . . ”.

Comment and Reaction

The Bill is in lieu of a proposed plan and cull which will, now that the Bill has been introduced, not go ahead. According to the ABC News it is estimated some 6,000 Brumbies live within the Kosciuszko National Park and that as a result, conservationists have long argued they damage the sensitive environment, however, culling the Brumbies has always proved controversial. The 2016 draft of a Wild Horse Management Plan recommended that, the NSW Government reduce the number of horses in the park by 90 percent over 20 years, primarily through culling. This would have resulted in about 600 horses being left within the park.

The ABC News reports that the Bill and resulting plan ". . . appears to be out of step with recent advice from the NSW Threatened Species Scientific Committee, which recently took steps towards listing habitat loss from Brumbies as a 'key threatening process'".

Dr Graeme Worboys from the ANU's Fenner School of Environment and Society is reported as saying ". . . horses simply do not belong in the national park, at least in their current numbers. . . Wild horses are introduced stock animals, . . .Too many are trashing Kosciuszko's wetlands, streams and catchments across the entire park.'

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Kosciuszko Wild Horse Heritage Bill 2018 [NSW] as reported in the TimeBase LawOne Service.

Protecting Kosciuszko's wild horses from culling

Culling of Kosciuszko brumbies to be banned under plan to protect 'national icons' (ABC News)

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