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Thursday, 27 November 1986
Page: 2841

Senator BOSWELL(10.16) —I would like to take the time of the Committee to address a very important issue in Australia at the moment. To some people this matter may not seem important but to the rural people of Queensland it is something that has to be addressed. I refer to the problem of kangaroo management. In Australia we have a management program which is supervised by the Australian Government and supported by every State Government. This responsible program is backed by scientists and representatives from farming communities, environmental organisations and animal welfare groups. Whilst the program may have its problems from time to time and some State governments may feel that they require a higher cull figure than the Federal Government allows, basically it has the support of all sections of the community.

The management plan is controlled by the amount of exports allowed by the Federal Government. The State governments are required to submit their State-wide management plans to the Kangaroo Advisory Committee which is made up of scientists, environmentalists and representatives from the rural industries. This Committee is the arbitrator of the commercial cull allowed in the States. The State governments issue tags to registered shooters who must attach tags to any skins that are taken. If a shooter is found with an untagged skin in his possession, he is heavily fined. If he is caught on more than two or three occasions, he loses his livelihood by virtue of the fact that he loses his licence. When he sells his skins to a skin dealer, the skin dealer is required to make sure that the skins are tagged. Dealers are allowed to purchase only tagged skins. If they do not their licences are removed. Both shooter and dealer are required to send monthly returns into the State fauna departments and these figures are then balanced with Customs returns and checked against the export figures.

The management program is overseen by dedicated officers from the State fauna departments and, as I mentioned, it has the support of all State governments, the Federal Government, responsible conservation and welfare groups such as the Queensland Conservation Council, the Wildlife Preservation Society, the World Wildlife Fund Australia and primary industry groups. All of those groups recognise that the management program is the most humane and efficient way to cull kangaroos while keeping their numbers at a level where all kangaroo species will survive. It also keeps kangaroo numbers at a level which enables the grazing and farming industries to survive. The present support for the program must remain. Unfortunately there are some irresponsible animal liberation groups which are trying to sabotage the Australian management program, and I name those groups as Greenpeace and the Fund For Animals in Australia Ltd. It is interesting to know that the President of the Fund for Animals in Australia, Mr Richard Jones, is fourth on its Senate ticket in New South Wales. I believe that any view the Fund for Animals puts forward is not a balanced view.

We must question the motives of the Greenpeace organisation and we must understand what it is all about. With the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Environment (Mr Cohen) and Senator Georges, I have visited a number of rural areas when the kangaroo problem has been investigated by sensible people, but every time that we go out there the Greenpeace movement has a representative there with some of the most expensive camera equipment and other gear. Its representatives fly around the world first class. We should question what they are all about. Are they there to protect the welfare of animals or are they there to protect their own very expensive lifestyles, living in the fast lane and staying in the most expensive and best accommodation around the world? I question this because they never come up with any alternative. What alternative is there if Australia's management program is destroyed? People can criticise it and condemn it, but they must also come up with an alternative, and this is what these irresponsible animal welfare groups never do.

Kangaroos exist in plague proportions because of man, because man has changed the environment, because man has grown crops that allow the kangaroos to feed, because man has provided water where water never previously existed. We have changed the environment to the kangaroo's benefit and they are now in plague proportions in Queensland. On an average they are destroying $5,000 worth of each grain grower's crops. They are also destroying the grazier's ability to survive when the districts become dry and drought stricken. I warn these groups and the people overseas, who are falling for the propaganda that is being put out by some of these irresponsible animal welfare and animal liberation groups, that they are going to force graziers and farmers to take action to control the kangaroo population, but they will not be controlled in the humane way that is presently allowed.

I see Senator Sanders coming into the chamber, as he runs through the door. I challenge him to put down his alternative plan to control the numbers of kangaroos. We are seeing the Greenpeace movement overseas spreading its policies of misrepresentation among the peoples of Europe and America. I believe that most people in Australia understand the need to control the kangaroo numbers but I believe these animal liberation groups are having some effect overseas. They have got a number of prominent sports people to condemn kangaroo running shoes and kangaroo products. They are putting out propaganda with photos of sportsmen running across kangaroo bodies. That is very emotional.

But I say to Senator Sanders and to everyone interested in this problem: If we take away the management program, what have we left? The farmers and graziers will survive. What will happen is that instead of there being skilled shooters who can shoot accurately, hit a kangaroo in the head and kill it in one second, going in amateurs with inferior rifles and gear will come in from the towns. They will be invited on to the properties to shoot those kangaroos and they will shoot everything that moves. They will not be able to shoot accurately and they will not pursue a wounded animal. The kangaroos will be culled in a manner that will not be as humane as is the case at the moment. The farmers also will take action. They will take action that will kill not only the kangaroos. They will take their stock out of their paddocks, fence off the paddocks and poison the water. Everything will be killed, including bird life and the kangaroos.

We must stick to this management program unless someone is able to come up with an alternative program; and no one has been able to do that. We take people out into the bush, show them the problem and say: `What is the alternative?. After being out there for two or three days, most sensible people will say: `This is the only way to go'. Some people come up with the idea that we must have shooters who work for the Government. But that presupposes that all shooters who are now shooting professionally would become public servants. They would not shoot any more accurately; they would not kill any more humanely. We would just transfer from the private sector across to the public sector the same 6,000 people who are culling kangaroos at the moment. Some people say: `Let us put in reserves for the kangaroos, put big fences around them and keep them in there'. My answer to that is to ask: Who will cull those kangaroos once they breed and the numbers increase? There must be a culling program; there is no alternative.

In every country where there is wildlife, that wildlife is culled. In South Africa the antelopes and elephants in the wildlife parks are culled. As the environment for the wildlife is made more complete, the wildlife survives and propagates. When one takes away the natural predators, the numbers increase. We have increased kangaroo numbers by destroying dingoes. By baiting dingoes, we have destroyed the kangaroo's natural predator. We have also made their environment--

Senator Chaney —More predictable; more reliable.

Senator BOSWELL —More reliable. We have increased the numbers. If one looks at journals from Leichhardt and other early explorers, they make comments like `We saw 13 kangaroos today' or `We saw five kangaroos today'. I went out with Senator Sanders in Roma. We saw about 1,000 kangaroos in two or three hours. But the day was wet and the kangaroos had dispersed out into the scrub. But I could take Senator Sanders or anyone else interested in this problem out today around the grazing or farming areas. There are thousands and thousands of kangaroos destroying the crops of the Queensland grain growers.

I make this statement to the Committee today because I believe that people overseas should realise what is going on. No alternative has been put up by the animal welfare groups as to how Australia can cope with the kangaroo problem.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Senator Coleman) —Order! Before I call the next speaker, I remind the Committee that this is not a time for second reading speeches. It is a time for the passing of votes for particular departments. Honourable senators have had the opportunity at other stages to participate in legitimate debate on this matter. I do not intend allowing anyone else to give a second reading speech.