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Thursday, 14 May 1970

Mr BARNARD (Bass) - I rise to support the motion that has been moved by the honourable member for Henty (Mr Fox) and supported by the honourable members for Dawson (Dr Patterson) and Mallee (Mr Turnbull). I think on a motion as wide ranging as this is in relation to the protection of our natural fauna, all honourable members in this House will support the motion that has been moved by the honourable member for Henty. I think one should say that in this House he has taken a leading part in moving for the protection of the fauna of this country, particularly the kangaroo. In this respect credit should be given him not only by honourable members in this House but also by those persons outside the Parliament who have a very great interest in this matter. I also want to point out that it is not merely a question of what has been done by the honourable member for Henty. For example, members in another place have taken a very great interest in this subject. As a result of the agitation of honourable members in this House, honourable senators in another place and of people outside the Parliament, a move has now been made to set up a select committee which will provide, we hope, a measure of protection in the future. Future generations will not thank us when they remember that some of the most valuable fauna of this country are now extinct because we were not prepared to accept the responsibility for providing the kind of protection that is necessary to preserve what are, after all, our natural assets.

I support this motion. 1 believe it is an extremely important one and it is the first occasion on which a select committee has been proposed. I have no doubt that it will receive the unanimous support of this Parliament. 1 have said on other occasions that I believe there should have been some kind of protection instituted in this country a long time ago. I read some figures recently - whether they can be substantiated I am not in a position to say with absolute certainty - which show that over the last 40 years 40 million kangaroos have been exterminated in this country. I think I can say without it being disputed that we are now exporting between 800,000 and 1- million kangaroo skins each year to the United States of America without any treatment at all. So having these factors in mind I believe that the honourable member for Henty and others who have taken a very keen interest in this matter should be commended for having brought this motion before the Parliament. In conclusion, I merely want to say that I regret that there is still in this country a desire by some people to organise mass shootings of kangaroos. This, somehow or other, is regarded as sport, but I oppose it. The Opposition supports the motion.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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