Scott Sargood, Halton, Charleville, with some of his future replacement heifers which are surviving on mulga in country marked category white on their PMAV.

Dry producers want mulga left out of laws

Strengthened vegetation management laws could damage their operation considerably.

“It would be like cancer, it will eventually just kill you.”

That’s the way Charleville beef producer Scott Sargood describes the effect strengthened vegetation management laws would have on his operation.

Mr Sargood and his wife Adma own three adjoining properties between Morven and Charleville covering 34,300 hectares of mulga country.

The cattle feeding on some of the mulga marked category white on their PMAV.

With Charleville recording its lowest rainfall ever last year, the couple are currently thinning and feeding mulga on their properties to keep their Santa breeders alive.

Thanks only to their mulga, they have been able to sustain their breeder numbers for the past five years.

But if Labor upholds its commitment to strengthen vegetation management laws the couple fear their livelihood will be lost.

The Sargood family are worried about what impact strengthened vegetation management laws could have on their operation.

“The toughest thing we have had to deal with for the last five years is red tape and bureaucracy,” he said.

“We can deal with the drought and we know what to do and how to do it...but being able to do it is an ongoing battle.”

Mulga trees are a vital source of protein for livestock but if producers are unable to manage to resource it can become unreachable for livestock and turn into a woody weed creating a tree desert and choking itself out. 

The Sargood's country is in need of rain with mulga the only thing keeping them going.

Under best management practices, mulga is only harvested or pushed every eight to 12 years with only the smallest amount of rain needed for it to regenerate. 

Mrs Sargood said she didn’t know anybody in the bush who wanted to pull every tree down.

Scott Sargood, Halton, Charleville.

“The mulga lands need to be well managed in order to keep the vital food source of use and keep the fragile ecosystems and environments alive and healthy,” she said.

The couple agreed that mulga should be independent to the tree clearing laws and be managed according to each individual property. 

“The government are treating it as a computer program and trying to make everything predictable,” Mr Sargood said.

Mr Sargood believes mulga should be managed separately from vegetation management laws.

“The only predictable thing about nature is that it is unpredictable. Nothing grows straight in nature so it’s very difficult to lay one lot of rules down to suit the whole of Queensland when we have got so many different types of ecosystems and environments in the state.

“Each individual should have their own proposal and negotiate management of their property over say a five year plan.

“We need to agree on something so it doesn’t matter which party is in power it won’t just change over night.” 

In a bid to help educate more people on the importance of mulga management, the couple now have a 20m sign in front of the entrance to their property, Halton.

The 20m sign out the front of Halton which aims to educate tourists on mulga management.

The sign has been endorsed by South West NRM, Queensland Water and Land Carers, Landcare, Murweh, Paroo and Quilpie councils and the Bidjarra people. 

The couple use a UHF channel occupied by grey nomads and were tired of hearing comments about broad scale clearing and koala habitat made by passing motorists. 

Morning and afternoon, tourists are seen reading the sign and Mr Sargood said he wanted to bridge the gap between the city and country people.

“There are generations of people that have never been into the outback and all they know is what some greenie tells them,” he said.

“So in turn the government’s elected by the majority which is in the south east corner so I thought maybe if grandpa comes out and sees the sign...hopefully he will go home and have a BBQ and tell the kids about what he learnt on his way out to Charleville. 

“Each year schools in the smaller outback towns send their children to places like Canberra and the Snowy mountains to further their education on city life but I don’t know of any city school that sends their children out to the outback to learn how we live.

“We have got to get out of our own circles.” 

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