'Cattle starve while feds refuse access to national parks'

TENS of thousands of cattle are starving in Queensland while the Federal Government refuses to open up national parks and reserves for food supplies.

Queensland Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney today called on the Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke to have a heart and open up areas for emergency agistment.

He said part of the problem had resulted from the Commonwealth's decision to shut down the live export trade.

Bob Katter has campaigned on the issue, saying the federal government should take action to protect the plight of animals in the same way it had pounced on problems with live exports.

But Mr Burke told The Australian he had no interest in helping the state "wreck" conservation areas.

His successor, Joe Ludwig, urged Queensland to sign on to Canberra's new farm finance package to free up $60 million in concessional loans and "provide real support" to graziers.

Mr Seeney said Mr Burke should go to north-west Queensland to see for himself the problem that was confronting desperate graziers.

"Tens of thousands of cattle are starving. This is a dire animal welfare situation. Mr Burke and the Federal Labor Government must support every effort to help," Mr Seeney said.

"Tony Burke needs to relent. His opposition to our decision is outrageous. For the sake of graziers, their families, and their livestock he must relent and I call on him to do so.

"Mr Burke and the Gillard Government must rid themselves of their captivity to the radical Greens agenda and realise the immensity of the problem facing cattlemen across Queensland's far north and west.

"They have offered no solutions and they are, in part, a cause of the problem through their disastrous decision to shut down the live export trade.

"Our decision to open up parks and reserve properties is a common sense solution for some of the affected graziers and their stock.

"The properties we are opening up are not pristine national parks.

"They have, in fact, been used for grazing purposes - in some cases for more than a century - before being purchased for environmental protection.

"We are proposing a temporary measure, a practical solution, to a huge animal welfare issue.

"To deny graziers this option would be cruel and heartless.

"Have a heart Mr Burke. Reverse your opposition to Queensland's proposal."

Mr Seeney said Queensland would proceed to open up the appropriate reserve properties and national parks despite the Federal Government's opposition.

"We hope that common sense will eventually prevail in Canberra," he said.

"It is unthinkable that a Federal Minister could be so irresponsible as to let thousands of cattle die when this option is available to help some of these drought stricken graziers."



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