Grafton Pastures Protection Board met yesterday. Those present were Messrs. W. F. Ellis (chairman), P. Mulquiney, J. N. Short, C. Napper, F. Maxwell, the stock inspector (Mr. C. W. Sabine) and the secretary (Mr. G. N. Small).
The financial statement presented to and adopted by the Board showed a credit balance in the general fund of £587/3/3, and in the scalp account of £31/3/3. Accounts to the amount of £40/5/6 were passed for payment.
The Institute of Stock Inspectors wrote stating that the annual conference of that body would be held in Sydney on April 8 to 11. The conference would be opened by the Minister for Agriculture and many important matters would be discussed. An invitation was extended to the members of the Board to be present.
It was decided to grant the inspector necessary leave to attend the conference and to pay his out-of-pocket expenses.
The Lionsville Progress Association wrote asking the Board to have the travelling stock reserve or part of it situated about three miles from Baryulgil in the parish of Yalhakiara fenced in
The report of the inspector was that there were no funds available for the work. The matter had been under the Board 's previous consideration.
It was decided to inform the association that there were no funds available at present.
The Farmers and Settlers' Association wrote asking the Board to reconsider its decision to discontinue the payment on fox scalps and pay a bonus of 10/ per scalp. It was claimed that foxes were rapidly increasing in the district to the annoyance of the settlers.
The inspector stated that rabbits were increasing down the river, and he hoped the Board would not lose sight of the fact that the fox was one of the natural enemies of the rabbit.
The letter was held over until next meeting.
The Tullymorgan Progress Association wrote drawing the Board's attention to a huge camp of flying foxes in the bangalow scrub, which were having a disastrous effect on fruit. They asked for a supply of ammunition with a view to organising a destroying party.—It was decided to inform the association that the Board had no jurisdiction.
The Coonamble P.P. Board wrote forwarding copy of resolutions carried at recent meetings, which it was proposed to forward to the Council of Advice for inclusion in the agenda paper. The resolutions were that the P.P. Act be so amended as to grant financial assistance to landholders to dig out rabbits and destroy rabbit harbors on their holdings within the Board's districts on the same conditions as wire netting was supplied. The second resolution was that the Federal Government be asked to abolish the duty on imported wire netting.—Received.
Some time ago the secretary to the Forestry Commission wrote with reference to the Board's application to acquire Forestry Reserve No. 354, parish of Jardine. The letter stated that the question had been carefully considered and it was found impossible on the grounds that such a departure would prejudicially affect forestry interests. The area under review was required for grazing teams engaged in timber hauling on the State forest. The commission would offer no objection to the legitimate use by travelling stock or reasonable improvement by the Board.
The Board at its last meeting wrote Mr. Missingham, M.L.A., asking that he use his influence to have this decision altered and the land revoked.
In his reply received yesterday Mr. Missingham stated that he had seen the Forestry Commissioners in an endeavor to obtain an agreement. The Commissioners promised they would go thoroughly into the matter and advise him. Up to January 16 this had not been done and it was his intention to again see them.
The Board endorsed the action of the secretary in writing Mr. Missingham on the matter.
The Glen Innes Board wrote forwarding copy of resolutions in which they stated they were absolutely opposed to the abolition of P.P. Boards, and had asked the Government to oppose any alteration that would take away the rights from the ratepayers of their present position. They also invited a definite expression of opinion from each Board throughout the State.—It was decided to cooperate with Glen Lines and oppose any movement for abolition.
The Glenreagh branch of the Timber Haulers' Association wrote protesting against the Board's decision to enforce payment of rates on working large stock. It was claimed that there were a great many teams that did not travel on the main roads or stock routes at all, and there were many instances in which they did not travel the required 10 miles to use the reserves.—No action was taken.
Mr. R. J. Franklin wrote asking if the Board would consent to his cutting some trees suitable for girders on W. and C. Reserves, No. 40,090 and 40,091, parish of Woolgoolga. He was content to cut the trees under licence from the Forestry Commission.
The inspector recommended refusal of the application. Until the Forestry Commission was prepared to listen to reason and discontinue its policy of all take and no give the Board should continue its policy of opposition.
The request was refused.
Mr. J. R. Livermore wrote renewing his application on behalf of several ratepayers that a bonus be paid on crows.
The Board decided to "Gazette" crows as noxious birds, and to pay a bonus of 6d per head after gazettal. Mr. C. Napper was the only dissentient to the motion.
The Coaldale branch of the P.P.U. wrote protesting against the Board's decision to enforce impounding from T.S. Reserves. The branch asked that the Board refrain from such action pending the completion of all fencing as it was felt that an injustice was being done.
The inspector said that if the shires took action to keep the stock off the roads there would not be so much trouble on the reserves.
The Department of Lands forwarded a scheme for distribution of wire netting. The Minister had secured a promise from the Commissioners of the Government Savings Bank to the effect that, in those cases where the properties were already under mortgage to the bank and the borrowers required a supply of netting, etc., for the making of such properties rabbit proof, the Commissioners would be prepared, on the certificate of the P.P. Board of the district that the material had been obtained and erected in accordance with the Act, to take over the debt as an additional loan whether or not the limit of advance by them had already been reached. The department desired to know whether the Board would agree to grant supplies in such cases, obtaining in each case the Commissioner's concurrence in writing as a precedent condition.
The inspector recommended that the Board, concur with the scheme. It was in the interests of the Board as well as the stockowner.
The recommendation was adopted.
The inspector reported that on February 6 he impounded 35 head of cattle found tresspassing on T.S. and C.R. 's 13,691 and 13,692 at Skinner's swamp at Coutts' Crossing respectively. Twenty-three head of these belonged to Mr. Frank McLennan, who subsequently saw him and claimed that he was entitled to a month's grass under an arrangement made some 16 months ago with the Board's approval. The arrangement made in consideration of certain fencing around the bog on Skinner's swamp by McLennan and Cowling was that they were to be allowed grass for two weeks—McLennan for two teams and Cowling for one! He (the inspector) had been under the impression that they had this grass at the time of the arrangement but McLennan stated that he did not get the grass at that time, and that he had put one team on the reserve and that it had remained there for three weeks until the date of impounding. He claimed that he was entitled to two weeks grass for two teams under the arrangement, and that as he had only put one team there he was entitled to grass it for a month. The inspector added that he was not in a position to state whether McLennan had the grass at the time of the arrangement or not. If he had been under the impression that he was entitled to that grass he should have at least notified either the secretary or inspector. Numerous complaints had reached him that there were a number of cattle trespassing on the reserves and he had impounded all the cattle he had found. One bullock found on Coutts' Crossing reserve was infected with tuberculosis in an advanced stage and was destroyed with the consent of the owners.
Mr. Maxwell said he could produce evidence to show that the bullocks had been depastured on the reserve for over three weeks. From inquiries that he had made he was sure Mr. McLennan had taken, advantage of the arrangement. Personally, he considered the Board should carry the matter further.
Mr. Short moved that the application for a refund be refused.
Mr. Maxwell seconded the motion. The man was caretaker of the reserves and it was most unfair of him to take advantage of his position.
The inspector explained that the arrangement was for a fortnight's grass. Mr. McLennan claimed that because he only had one team instead of two he was entitled to a month's grass. He (the inspector) understood that on completion of the job the bullocks would be turned on the reserve for a fortnight. If he considered he was conscientiously entitled to the grass why did he not notify the Board?
The Chairman: Do you want further inquiries made?
M. Napper: No; let it drop.
The inspector explained that Mr. McLennan's authority to act as caretaker had been withdrawn.
A further report was tabled by the inspector which stated that notwithstanding the repeated warnings that had been given and prosecutions which had been undertaken at different times, complaints of trespassing by stock were reaching him on all sides now that a charge had been placed on teams using the reserves. As funds were limited in connection with the "Reserves Improvement Account" it was a matter of practical impossibility to undertake the fencing of the reserves and until this was done starving stock would continue to trespass. With a view of minimising the nuisance he was of the opinion that shire councils should be asked to cooperate with the boards by giving effect to their powers of impounding trespassing stock. He had inserted an advertisement in the local paper in connection with the matter, and as a result of this, several trespassing stock had been removed. He suggested that as a charge was being made on working large stock using the reserves some scheme should be devised whereby the whole matter would be placed on a sound and satisfactory basis. That scheme, among other things, would mean the appointment of someone with authority to impound on the reserves.
Mr. Napper moved that the report be adopted and that a committee consisting of the chairman, Mr. Maxwell, the inspector and the secretary be appointed to make inquiries as to the best method of carrying out the suggestion and report to next meeting or to a special meeting.
The inspector drew attention to the branding of large stock and stated that he was continually receiving inquiries from stockowners as to the order of branding and the size of brands. He suggested that an advertisement giving the required information should be inserted in the press.
The recommendation was adopted by the board.
The inspector submitted a copy of the progress report of the stock returned by owners. This had been furnished to the chief inspector. It showed that 12,169 horses, 132,046 cattle and 914 sheep were returned, the estimated numbers not returned being, horses 1000; cattle 15,000; and sheep 500.
Those figures showed a considerable decrease in comparison with the numbers of previous years. Reference was made in the report to the severe drought through which the district had passed, and also to the fact that owing to the failure of the cattle market stockowners had anything but a bright outlook in front of them.
The inspector stated that he estimated the figures for 1923 in regard to cattle would show a decrease on those for 1922 of from 30 to 35 per cent.
The inspector reported that several inquiries had been received in connection with rabbit fencing and he had forwarded the necessary information in each in stance.
The inspector drew attention to the requirements of the Act, and expessed the opinion that subsection C of section 44 would meet the case. He had supplied the same information to each inquirer and had adopted that course in order to minimise the expense to the men on the land.
The action of the inspector was endorsed.
The inspector submitted the reply by South Grafton Council to his application on behalf of the board for permission to connect a waterpipe from the pipe supplying the council's depot to camping and water reserve No. 28,003. The council regretted it could not accede to the request owing to the smallness of the pipe.
In a further report the inspector stated that the matter was of vital importance to stockowners who contemplated trucking fat stock to the Sydney market. He interviewed the secretary of the Water Board, who realised the importance of the connection being made. There was no place at the present time where stock could be assured of a supply of good, clean water within reasonable distance from the trucking yards, and it was absolutely imperative in these circumstances in the interests of stockowners that a connection be made despite the cost. South Grafton was destined to become in the near future one of the most important trucking centres in the State, as practically all the upriver cattle which had hitherto been sent via Glen Innes and Tenterfield would be trucked from South Grafton. He had an interview in connection with this matter with the Water Board engineer, the cost to be about £100 for about six chains of connection from the nearest main. The engineer explained that the effect of the connection would not, in his opinion, interfere with the supply to the sanitary depot, and he (the inspector) would suggest that a deputation from the board wait upon the Mayor of South Grafon and ask him to use his influence to have council reconsider its decision.
The inspector said he did not think the members of the South Grafton Council realised the importance of having an assured water supply.
Mr. Short moved the adoption of the report, and that a deputation wait on the Mayor of South Gafton uging upon him the necessity to have the water laid on. It was decided to ask Mr. G. W. Caldwell (Water Board engineer) to accompany the deputation.
It was also agreed that, provided the water was available, the inspector carry out the work.
It was decided to seek the cooperation of the Orara Shire in the matter.
Mr. Maxwell referred to the fact that there was no water at the trucking yards and suggested that the Railway Commissioners be witten to explaining the importance of having water there and asking them to take the necessary steps in the matter.
The board adopted the suggestion.
It was decided to apply for the withdrawal of the State Forest in parish of Towallum and that same be placed under the control of the board.
The inspector reported that only 45 teamsters were registered. The only course open to the board, if these men who were not registered were using the reserves, was to prosecute. Ample publicity had been given them in the matter and if they did not secure a ticket they would have to put up with the consequences.