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Tuesday, 12 June 1984
Page: 2830


Senator PETER RAE(5.07) —I find myself in the position of wishing to support both what those who have supported the Senate Select Committee on Animal Welfare have said and also the fact that the Minister for Home Affairs and Environment (Mr Cohen) made the statement. I believe it was timely for there to be a ministerial statement, having been at the Council of Europe and at the European Parliament. Having seen some of the material which has been circulated to those bodies, having heard some of the debate and committee work taking place and what those bodies are being urged to do in relation to Australia and having seen the degree of total misrepresentation which has taken place in support of the campaign against Australia, I believe that that statement was timely. I do not necessarily agree with the terminology. I imagine that some people find some of the terminology offensive, but I believe it was timely for there to be on behalf of Australia a ministerial statement which is not wrongly anticipating the result of the Senate Committee inquiry.

I believe that the Senate Committee inquiry, as Senator Georges and Senator Jack Evans have said, is important. I agree with that and I look forward to the result of its work. In the meantime, this nation has been lambasted around the world to such a degree that in one short period our embassy in Brussels received over 11,000 printed cards, mainly from school children, in relation to stopping the bloodthirsty killing of kangaroos in Australia. The sort of material that has been disseminated is false and I believe it is time for us to say: 'Look, we are a responsible country. We have rules about this. Maybe the rules are not perfect. We have a Committee looking at it. If there is need for changes, no doubt that Committee will make recommendations for the changes'. I believe that the questions are not really in dispute. The basic questions are not about whether there ought to be culling at all, but whether the culling is done by a method which is acceptable to modern society and whether it endangers the conservation of species. Those are questions which obviously can do with further examination. I look forward to that further examination. I go back to the initial point.

I do not think that it is justifiable for the World Wildlife Fund to use absolutely misrepresentative material to justify a campaign which would paint Australians as some of the most inhumane, disgraceful people to live on this earth. It is highly desirable for us to defend ourselves against that accusation and show that we are acting responsibly, that we have a Committee, that we are expressing some concern and that we will do something about the matter if something is found to be necessary.

Question resolved in the affirmative.