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Monday, 9 February 2015
Page: 223

Mr IRONS (Swan) (17:50): Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker Griggs, and I must say it is a pleasure to see you back in Canberra. I know you have much wildlife in your territory. I too rise to join with the member for La Trobe and other members to condemn the act of canned hunting across the world and the importation of such trophies into Australia.

I begin by asking members to imagine an animal which has been taken from its mother at birth and raised by humans—not because there is anything wrong with its mother or because it is in the best interests of the animal; simply because it can be taken and to do so, unfortunately, guarantees a very lucrative international business trade. The animal is then raised in captivity until one day it is taken outside and left to wander aimlessly inside a large fenced enclosure until someone—who has paid up to $50,000 to the person who took this animal from its mother—is allowed to kill it with a shotgun, a handgun or sometimes even a crossbow. This is not something hunters are doing as part of a conservation effort; it is simply so they can guarantee they will be able to go home and put a trophy on their wall. In my mind they cannot really call that hunting. With this in mind, I will highlight that I am not opposed to hunting in its true form and, in particular, hunting for conservation purposes, but I am against this atrocious act of canned hunting.

As my fellow members have stated, canned hunting is where animals are raised in captivity for the purpose of eventually becoming trophy kills for foreigners wanting to mount a lion or other animal on their wall. It is a despicable act of cruelty but one which continues to be allowed in many countries around the world, most notably in South Africa. For example, in South Africa there are about 4,000 wild lions; but what many Australians do not know is that there are many more than double that number in captivity.

The member for La Trobe next to me—and I again applaud him for this motion—has done significant work in his electorate and at the national level to raise awareness of canned hunting and the amount of trophies Australians have been allowed to import under the Australian Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. I again commend him for his efforts. While these trophies have been imported under this act I do, however, highlight that Australians' exportation and—most importantly in this instance—importation of wild fauna and flora is guided by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or CITES, which Australia joined in 1976 and which 180 countries are a party to. The aim of CITES is to ensure that the international trade in wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. This is particularly important for those animals which are endangered.

I would also highlight that canned hunting in countries such as South Africa is predominantly by people from European countries, not Australia. But this does not negate our responsibility to prevent the importation of trophies into our country to ensure we do not inadvertently support this atrocious activity. As the member for La Trobe stated, the number of wildlife trophies and body parts imported into Australia from 2010 to 2014 included over 40 different species, consisting of 93 hunt trophies and 1,027 body parts. Although the concept of canned hunting itself is distressing to many Australians, it is also the less blatant cruelty that takes place to these animals which Australians need to be aware of, as well as the fraud which is happening right under our noses. These animals are raised in captivity, so for these farm owners to continue their trade—which is worth approximately US$200 million in Africa alone—the animals are regularly crossbred or inbred, leaving them to suffer from such issues as rickets, back problems and eyesight problems.

Australian volunteers are also being conned by these farm owners. As my colleagues have stated, Australian volunteers are spending about $700 per week to travel to South Africa in the belief they are looking after animals such as lion cubs which will be returned to the wild. The reality is they are inadvertently aiding canned hunting, which is illegal in Australia. The member for La Trobe, as I said, has already done much in this space, including working with the Minister for the Environment, Greg Hunt, to actually ban the importation of rhinoceros body parts. The minister has also now announced that he intends to extend this ban to the importation of lion parts and lion trophies into Australia, an act which I fully support.

On this basis, again, I applaud the member for La Trobe's call for the importation of animals or animal parts which have been killed under these conditions to be banned and the minister's actions to date in seeing these actions are implemented.