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Brumby Watch Australia

Australia - The Fraser Island Wild Horse (brumby) story/campaign
Not to be confused with the Palm Island brumby issue where some brumbies were treated badly by a minority group.

The Queensland Government Department of Environment, under the control of Environment Minister Mr Dean Wells, has illegally removed about eleven brumbies from Fraser Island, off the Queensland coast. A contract was given to Ms Shirley Gott by the Queensland Parks & Wildlife Service (QPWS) to remove these brumbies. The initial information received was that she was going to remove about 6 brumbies for breeding purposes. It was later heard that she had removed eleven brumbies of which some would be used for breeding and some for riding at her riding school, and some for adoption/sale. A recent television report said that she was going to remove the remainder later in the year. The manner in which the media first broke the news about the removal of brumbies by QPWS was that Ms Gott was 'rescuing' the brumbies, and that they had to be removed under the long term environmental management plan for island. The brumbies are not being rescued, they are being stolen.

Elder John Jones
After Lyall Sempf had some discussions with a couple of indigenous (aboriginal) elders who have traditional land rights over Fraser Island, it has been confirmed that the original horses brought over to the island belonged to the ancestors of some traditional owners, and that they want the brumbies to remain on the island. There are also aspirations by some indigenous owners to use the brumbies for tourism purposes. Under Native Title Law and Common law, these brumbies actually belong to the ndigenous people, and hence the removal of these brumbies is considered as straight-out daylight theft. The brumby removal issue has caused major upset to traditional owners and the general brumby advocate community, with the indigenous people now taking this issue to the federal court level.

On Monday 25th August, Lyall Sempf and indigenous Elder John Dalungdalee Jones of the Dalungbar Tribe protested in Brisbane over the removal and theft of these brumbies. Elder Jones was to attend a federal court case over indigenous affairs that day anyway, so Lyall Sempf rode his horse from Elder Jones home, through the streets of Brisbane city to the federal court. Lyall then walked, trotted and cantered his horse around the inner streets of Brisbane until sundown. A number of TV reporters filmed the protest ride, with interviews taking place at Elder Jones’ home and the federal court house.The protest sign on Lyall’s horse read "Minister Wells, Return the stolen Fraser brumbies back to the indigenous".

Exact numbers of brumbies on the island are not known, although it is believed there may have been about 25 before the removal of the 11. In an already low gene diversity situation, the removal of some brumbies now has significant detrimental affects on the long term sustainability of a healthy herd. Outside ‘blood’ may have to be introduced at some time in the future to rectify possible genetic abnormalities and problems, so it is vital that the removed brumbies be returned to the island under the ownership of the indigenous people.

Some background information:
Elder John Dalungdalee Jones is a descendant of Harry and Lappy Aldridge. Harry Aldridge bred Waler horses on Fraser Island in the 1800’s for the English army in India. (The Waler is Australia’s famous war horse) These horses have been isolated from the mainland since the late 1800’s and hence have a distinct genetic heritage value.

Minister Wells and QPWS claim that the brumbies are being removed under the long term objective under the Great Sandy Region Management Plan 1994-2010. The Great Sandy Region Management Plan has no legislative authority - it is merely a management plan. The Management Plan, page 72 states "Feral horses will be removed from Fraser Island and Cooloola" however it also states, Page 1 "Note - Nothing in this Management Plan is intended to diminish or extinguish native title and associated rights".

Under the Queensland Nature Conservation Act 1992, Section 6 states "Community participation in administration of Act - This Act is to be administered, as far as practicable, in consultation with, and having regard to the views and interests of, land-holders and interested groups and persons, including Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders". In July 1997, Justice Shepherdson J. made a Representative Order that Elder Jones represent the 22 elders of the aboriginal family groups of the Ngulungbara, Batchala and Dalungbara Peoples of Fraser Island and Wide Bay area.
Elder Jones was not consulted about the removal of brumbies from Fraser Island.

Also as Fraser Island is World Heritage Listed, it comes under international law (international treaty to the UN).
Under this law, an environmental impact study must be done before considering doing anything with the brumbies.
An impact study was not done. At a private meeting last year between Minister Wells, and Lyall & Kristine Sempf and Ann Pearson of BWA, Wells was advised of the requirements of an impact study under international law.
Wells response was "I’ll look into it." Wells obviously didn’t look too far.

Wells has also violated/abused the Queensland Environmental Protection Agency Strategic Plan 2003-2006; the Commonwealth Standing Committee on Environmental Heritage - Managing Australia’s World Heritage, Ch. 4; and the Priority Environmental Policies Queensland 2001-2004 produced for the Queensland 2001 election.

QPWS has also been disseminating misinformation about this Fraser Island issue. This is to be expected.

Lyall Sempf has been on the road a lot over the last two weeks campaigning over, and bringing awareness to the illegal
removal of these brumbies. Your support is needed.
You can help in this campaign by protesting to following, requesting that the stolen brumbies be returned to Fraser Island under the ownership of the indigenous/traditional owners, where these brumbies can be managed by the indigenous owners.

Queensland Environment Minister Dean Wells
P.O. Box 155 Brisbane Albert Street
Queensland 4002 Australia
Ph 07 3225 1800 Fax 07 3229 6920 Email

Queensland Premier Peter Beattie
PO Box 185 Brisbane Albert Street
Queensland 4002 Australia
Ph 07 38321322 Fax 07 32213631 Email


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