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Monday, 28 November 2005
Page: 3

Mr ADAMS (12:41 PM) —As the member for Hume has pointed out, this report has been far-reaching and I believe it should be acted upon quickly. We all moan about pests from time to time, whether they be the dreadful cane toad, the pesky rabbits, those bugs that infest the vegetable patch or feral cats that take our native birds. But the extent of pests in Australia was brought home to the committee in its deliberations across Australia. The number of species involved is quite incredible, and the states have been managing them in various ways over many years.

Pests are those species whose numbers have got out of control for various reasons and which are impacting on our economy and environmental communities. This needs to be sorted out if both vulnerable native species and farm crops and animals are to continue to survive. But, if one area manages to rid itself of a particular pest, there is often a problem of reintroduction from another area, as the species moves from place to place. Obviously, there is a need for a national approach in this area.

The main focus of this report, after the committee heard submissions from around the country, is to make recommendations to assist the overall management—and eradication, if possible—of pests. Also, there is some ability to harvest some of the pest species. A few animals are already being commercially marketed. Possums are one species for which a market for the meat has been found in China, and I believe the pelts can be marketed as fur, so another opportunity exists there. I had the opportunity to try camel steak while in Western Australia. Although it was quite nice, it may require the chefs of the world to look at recipes that would make it as popular as beef steak.

Mr Snowdon —It’s beautiful—great silverside.

Mr ADAMS —The member for Lingiari says that he has eaten lots of camel—and, if you look at him, you will see he is pretty lean and mean.

Mr Snowdon —As is the meat.

Mr ADAMS —It looks as though it has done him some good, but it has not done much for his hair! Horse, kangaroo and wallaby have been eaten for centuries, but many Australians have difficulties with this concept, not seeing them as pest species despite the evidence to the contrary.

Tasmanians had a good opportunity to give input to this report and, in fact, one of our northern farmers has developed a strategy to integrate all the stakeholders’ activities, including hunting, into keeping pests down through animal game management plans. I think that is something we could look at as we go into managing pests throughout Australia. In some species, it is a question of keeping animal populations healthy and in control. In others, it means eradication. Either way, it has to be done in the most humane, efficient and economic way that is possible. The government should take note of the 47 recommendations in this report and act upon them for the good of the regions and of rural communities.

I would like to thank the member for Hume for his interest and for the expert way he has conducted and led this committee. Thanks, too, to the committee secretariat, Ian, Kylie and Marlene. Also, thanks to my parliamentary colleagues for making the task a very pleasant and a very good, stimulating one. Thanks to all those who gave evidence right across this great country of ours and to those who have hosted us across the nation. I hope we can ensure that this report will be considered by both sides of the parliament and acted upon swiftly and in a sensible and responsible way.