22nd October 2013
Blockade requires urgent action to avoid animal welfare disaster
Property Rights Australia has called for a resolution to the predicament faced by a cattle farming property near Georgetown in far north Queensland’s gulf country. Immediately the gate must be unlocked that has been erected by ERO Georgetown Gold without Etheridge Shire council permission across the formed council maintained Flat Creek road.
With 60 per cent of Queensland drought declared including the Etheridge Shire, Flat Creek station requires free access to Georgetown in order to truck in supplement to help the cattle cope with the quickly deteriorating seasonal conditions. Failure to do so can only result is some cattle deaths. There is a herd of around 1,000 breeder cows that are calving right now and require the extra nutrient to provide milk for young calves.
Joanne Rea Chair of property Rights Australia said that, “This has become a deplorable animal welfare situation with immediate resolution needed as livestock supplement purchased in 6 tonne orders cannot be transported over the usual 45 km council maintained access road. Instead the stations only way in or out is a rough 4WD track which is a three hour round trip for the 79 km’s to Georgetown resulting in extra usage of fuel and wear and tear on the vehicle. Because of the roughness of the track only half a Ute load of supplement can be transported per trip. This is in addition to long days spent pumping water and feeding cattle.”
Flat Creek Station has been caught as meat in the sandwich in a dispute between the gold mining company and Etheridge Shire Council about the long serving access road to the station that crosses the much more recently granted mining lease area. Because of the drought the mining company has run out of water and has suspended operations. Until it rains the signage erected that claims that “this road will be shortly obstructed and rendered impassable by mining works” will not occur in the same time frame crucial for Flat creek station to bring in bulk supplement to care for the welfare of the livestock. The station must be given free access while the miner, the council and the Department of Natural Resources and Mines resolve the matter.
The Minister for DNR&M, Andrew Cripps has issued two compliance orders for the barricade to be removed. Apparently the miner has taken the right to a 28 day appeal which will make the soonest that the compliance order can be enforced November the 5th. Other than that Flat Creek can only hope that a result will be found in mediation set down at the end of the month. Currently Flat creek owners have been excluded from this mediation.
Flat Creek is not only a working cattle station but also runs a camping and fossicking farmstay business. Two caravans were caught behind the locked gate after it was erected and were forced to leave the station via the rough 4WD track. They travelled out together helping each other in a very slow trip only made possible by the use of a chainsaw and shovel.
The lock gate is a blockade that will not help tourism in the area; infringes on Flat Creek to freely access their local town; effectively stops Flat Creek to truck cattle for sale which is usually in the Mareeba or Malanda saleyards; would not be helpful public relations for the other small miners in North Queensland and most importantly will result in an animal welfare disaster.
“Even if the mining company has broken no law this action shows the cavalier attitude of some companies to landowners and their staff. With the volume of mining activity in the State perhaps some regulations need to be in place to ensure that landowner’s usual access is not blocked until one of equal quality and convenience is constructed,” said Joanne Rea Chair of Property Rights Australia.
For further information contact:
Dale Stiller Vice Chairman PRA, Phone 4628 2173 or 0427 282 173
Joanne Rea Chairman PRA, Phone 4935 6231 or 0407 143 664
Jan Utschink Caretaker Flat Creek station, Phone 07 4062 5304 nights only
PRA is a non-profit organisation of primary producers and business people from rural
areas defending the rights of property owners