Where does Barilaro really stand on feral horses?

NSW Deputy Premier and MP for Monaro John Barilaro. Photo: CEBIT Australia | CC BY 2.0

NSW Deputy Premier and MP for Monaro John Barilaro. Photo: CEBIT Australia | CC BY 2.0

NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro continues to duck and weave on his plan for feral horses in Kosciuszko National Park as horse numbers continue to grow.

In a significant policy shift on Friday 1 March 2019, Mr Barilaro told a Jindabyne candidates forum he wants an ‘immediate’ reduction of horse numbers by 50%.

On Monday 4 March he told SE ABC Radio first a horse count is needed before acting.

“We agree the problem of growing feral horse numbers in Kosciuszko National Park is urgent, but we see no sign of action from the current NSW Government or Deputy Premier John Barilaro,” Invasive Species Council CEO Andrew Cox said today.

“Within just a few days Mr Barilaro has managed to completely contradict himself on the best course of action for dealing with destructive feral horses in Kosciuszko National Park.

“It’s time Mr Barilaro set the record straight on exactly where he stands so that the people in his seat of Monaro can vote in someone prepared to protect Kosciuszko National Park from feral horses, not someone ready to let these destructive pests trash one of Australia’s most treasured national parks.”

In response to a number of outlandish claims made by Mr Barilaro about the management of feral horses Reclaim Kosci has published a John Barilaro ‘fact checker’.

Reclaim Kosci is led by the Invasive Species Council and supported by the National Parks Association of the ACT, National Parks Association of NSW, Colong Foundation for Wilderness and the Nature Conservation Council of NSW.

“The deputy premier has continually repeated misconceptions regarding feral horse management and the Kosciuszko Wild Horse Heritage Act,” Mr Cox said. “This fact checker sets the record straight.”

It is now nine months since the Kosciuszko Wild Horse Heritage Act, which protects feral horses in Kosciuszko National Park, became law. And yet:

  • A committee has not been appointed.
  • There is no new horse plan.
  • There is no instruction to NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service to get on with the job.

Meanwhile FOI documents obtained by the Invasive Species Council have revealed numerous reports of feral horse attacks on campers in Kosciuszko National Park and one of a 16-year-old boy being hospitalised at Blue Waterholes campground. The NPWS rates the probability of further incidents at the campground resulting in medical treatment and hospitalisation as ‘likely’.

No horses have been removed from the southern end of the park for almost three years, 18 months in the northern end.

“If Mr Barilaro and his government were serious about protecting Kosciuszko National Park we would see an immediate restart of horse trapping to reduce threats to visitor safety and the environment,” Mr Cox said.

“When it comes to feral horse management Mr Barilaro makes seemingly impossible promises and at every turn stymies action to reduce horse numbers.”

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