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Monday, 9 February 2015
Page: 206

Mr LAURIE FERGUSON (Werriwa) (13:21): I congratulate the member for La Trobe—not just in the usual formal sense that we do for bringing a resolution here, but for a persistent campaign around the subject. Clearly, we heard from the previous speaker that he has had briefings in the parliament. He has obviously been in close contact with the minister and one would think that the change with regard to rhinos has something to do with his activity. This all arises from a constituent coming in and alerting the member about this issue, so I just want to congratulate him very clearly on all this activity.

When I saw this resolution I was first reminded of Nicolae Ceausescu, the despot of Romania, who was alleged to have killed 4,000 European brown bears during his reign and to have received 270 gold medals. These gold medals were apparently based on the type of kill you do. He had a rule, apparently, that nobody was allowed to kill more animals than he did on any of the hunts; he had a lot of the other Eastern bloc leaders there for hunting trips. Apparently what he used to do back then was to drug the animals so they were incapable of being missed. I think that is an extreme version of what we are talking about.

Obviously, the situation has a number of issues. The previous speaker referred to breeding for exotic strains, but there is also a very big danger of inbreeding. There is the situation where they have found the concentration of diseases being accentuated by these breeding patterns. There is the situation that every speaker has talked about: the animals become very tame. They are not fearful and they are used to the particular ways in which they are fed. So in actual fact, given that they are also enclosed, it is a very one-sided struggle.

The American hunter, Ted Kerasote, said:

'Canned hunting' is a misnomer. More accurately defined as 'shooting animals in small enclosures,' the activity has nothing to do with the motives that inform authentic hunting: procuring healthy, organic food; participating in the timeless cycles of birth, death, and nurturing; honoring the lives that support us; and reconnecting with wildness. No matter where one stands on hunting—vehemently opposed to it or seeing it as yet another way to live sustainably on Earth—one ought to decry shooting animals behind fences.

Whilst we have had a concentration on the question of essentially impoverished southern African countries which need the dollars, in reading about this I was also alerted to the growing practice in the United States. It is estimated that in any one year there are 1,000 instances of this. The Humane Society of America has said that animals that range between extinct in the wild and vulnerable—the various classifications between those two—include scimitar-horned oryx, Nubian ibex and European bison, and that a number of others are subject to this in the United States. They are particularly concerned about this issue of disease prevalence that I refer to.

We have got a situation where we have got enough problems with poaching in regard to the decline of the rhinoceros. It was estimated that, with the current state, deaths will overtake births in the next four years. We see a fairly disturbing gross inability of governments to have enough money to give rangers the kind of weaponry that the poachers have. We have got enough difficulties as it is without giving encouragement to people to go out there further. As some people have eluded to, there is also a very big question mark about how some of the younger animals are procured in the first place and whether there are deaths related to that.

I want to join with the speakers and commend what the member described as cruel and barbaric practices. Both he and the member for Fremantle in particular have talked about strengthening Australia's activity around CITES even further, whether it is by a permit system and the minister being involved at the end of the road or whether it is by widening what is not permitted. This is a very important resolution and I am pleased to see that on both sides of the parliament members are concerned by this practice.