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Tuesday, 16 April 1985
Page: 1101

(Question No. 31)


Senator Missen asked the Minister representing the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Environment, upon notice, on 22 February 1985:

(1) Was the kangaroo placed on the United States list of threatened species held by the United States Office of Endangered Species in 1974.

(2) Did the Australian Government at that time claim that there were at least 100 million kangaroos in Australia.

(3) Was a United States ban on the importation of kangaroo products then imposed but subsequently lifted in 1981.

(4) Is there a current proposal before the US Fish and Wildlife Service to make, or has there been made, a final rule to remove the three largest species of kangaroo, the red, eastern grey and western grey kangaroos, from the US Threatened Species List.

(5) Has the Australian Government refused or failed to supply to the US Office of Endangered Species any meaningful data despite that office's request over 18 months, for pertinent information; if so, why has the Australian Government not supplied such information.


Senator Ryan —The Minister for Arts, Heritage and Environment has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) On 30 December 1974 the United States Fish and Wildlife Service published its finding that the red, eastern grey and western grey kangaroos were threatened and the three species were listed as threatened under the US Endangered Species Act of 1973, with effect from 29 January 1975.

(2) I am not aware of any such claim being made in 1974. In submissions to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the population estimates provided by the Australian Government have been based on advice from State wildlife authorities, and scientists from CSIRO and universities, following aerial and other surveys.

(3) Yes. The US import ban was lifted from 29 May 1981 after the Australian States established, to the satisfaction of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, that their management programs were effective and that commercial importation of kangaroo products into the USA would not result in detriment to the species.

(4) On 8 April 1983 the US Fish and Wildlife Service notified in the US Federal Register that it proposed to delete the three species from the threatened list under the US Endangered Species Act of 1973. On 24 April 1984 the US Fish and Wildlife Service gave notice in the Federal Register of its withdrawal of the proposal. The decision was based on data from the Australian Government indicating that kangaroo populations had declined as a result of the 1982-83 drought. In its Federal Register notice the US Fish and Wildlife Service acknowledged that kangaroo populations still number in the millions and that the Australian States have demonstrated efficient conservation programs. Furthermore, the US Fish and Wildlife Service noted that it may propose deletion of the three species from the US threatened list if additional information becomes available to confirm the speed of the kangaroos' recovery from the effects of the 1982-83 drought.

(5) No. In fact the opposite is true. In a letter to Marian Newman of the Kangaroo Protection Foundation dated 7 May 1984, the USFWS wrote:

''You charge that the Australian Government 'duped' the United States on the kangaroo issue, and has demonstrated 'extraordinary deceit'. As far as we are concerned, nothing could be farther from the truth. The Australian Government has been completely open in its dealings with us, and has been very willing to provide any information we requested. In fact, it was the Australian Government's honesty in providing the latest data on declines in numbers that led to the withdrawal of our delisting proposal. The Australian Government has never tried to 'dupe' the US, and it has not been deceitful in any way.''