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Tuesday, 22 February 2011
Page: 1075

Mr COULTON (9:10 PM) —Mr Deputy Speaker, I hope my contribution befits this historic moment. I want to discuss a report by the University of Technology Sydney’s Institute of Sustainable Futures entitled Advocating kangaroo meat—towards ecological benefit or plunder. A report on the sustainability of the kangaroo industry done in a transparent and even-handed manner would be worthwhile, but this report has clearly set out to follow an agenda. Just a glance at some of the information shows it makes a complete mockery of the report, and ultimately the fine reputation of this institute has been damaged.

It is claimed that the average kangaroo carcass yields 1.5 kilograms of meat—the weight of a No. 15 chicken—and that the average carcass of a sheep is 49 kilograms. Its live weight would be 110 kilograms, so the big end of the mob would be about 130 kilograms, which is the size of the average sumo wrestler. In their attempt to distort the facts they have done themselves a great disservice.

The kangaroo industry is a very important industry in my electorate. Not only does it provide employment but also it is actively involved, under the New South Wales government, in the management of kangaroo herds. It provides a valuable service in managing the kangaroo flock.

Despite the fact that Professor Garnaut claims that we should be farming kangaroos and that kangaroos can indeed replace sheep and cattle, the reality is that the kangaroo industry has to be flexible and fit in with the nomadic nature of kangaroos and acknowledge that their populations ebb and flow with the seasons. The kangaroos of 250 years ago were naturally hunted by Indigenous Australians and a large dingo population. Now the kangaroos have no real natural predators. They are not subject to the vagaries of climate and seasons like they were, because farmers have put in watering points and improved pasture. The kangaroos no longer experience the natural declines in population that they used to in their natural environment.

This UTS report is wrapped in a thin veneer of science. It also tries to claim that kangaroos have no impact on farming. Where did they get the information that kangaroos have no impact on farming?

This report has been touted by radical animal liberationists such as the Voiceless group as evidence that the kangaroo industry should be closed down. The University of Technology Sydney’s Institute for Sustainable Futures, which published the report, is supposed to be trying to find more sustainable ways that we can live in this land, yet this report is a clumsy attempt to put only a negative spin on the kangaroo industry. It makes no attempt to examine the kangaroo industry’s numerous positive environmental benefits, not the least of which is that kangaroos do not emit methane, making their meat and leather a greenhouse-friendly option.

Kangaroos are a resource which can be utilised sustainably, so why not use them? It appears that this document was produced with a predetermined outcome in mind. If this is the type of science that the institute puts its name to, are the taxpayers’ dollars being spent wisely?