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Put parks to use

Wednesday, 23rd November, 2011

By Paula Doran

 State and National Parks should be leased back to graziers to make use of huge tracts of unused land, according to the Western Division of Councils.

President of the group, Mayor of Carrathool Council, Peter Laird, has called on the NSW government to consider leasing parts of former stations as a trial to put them back into production and lessen the impact their retirement has had on remote regions.

He’s seeking a meeting with Environment Minister Robyn Parker to see whether livestock could be run on parts of the former properties. 

“We believe in the west of the State they could trial it where we ran them at 50 per cent stocking rate whereas they could not only pay their rates they could pay for the personnel and the rangers wages and wouldn’t be a burden on the taxpayer,” he said.

Clr Laird said the proposal could generate jobs and reinstate some of the income that had not been replaced by an expected increase in tourists when stations were purchased for transformation into State/National parks.

He said the creation of national parks was having a detrimental affect on the social and economic viability of western NSW towns.  

“This issue has got to come to a head. The State Governments buy up really good agricultural land and they have no idea of the impact that has on our commercial structure. They just don’t consider the consequences.

“It leaves us in dire straits and governments seem quite ready to claim some more national parks with no thinking about the flow-on effect and it’s making it very, very hard for councils because they’ve got to pass that cost onto other ratepayers which is grossly unfair.

“For example, one recent purchase, of Hunthawong Station, that’s taken significant income away from the region - there’s families that are now gone, children no longer going to school or using the school bus, and workers and contractors that will no longer come to the region.

“Apart from that we as a Shire will now miss out on $20,000 in annual council rates. When this was brought to the attention of the State Government they suggested the rest of the Shire cover those costs...”

Mr Laird said governments should not keep locking land away and expecting taxpayers to meet the costs.

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