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Tuesday, 12 June 1984
Page: 2827

Senator GEORGES(4.51) —The Senate has appointed the Senate Select Committee on Animal Welfare and one of its terms of reference happens to be wildlife which includes kangaroo harvesting. I do not intend to comment on what the Committee's deliberations will lead to except to say that because of the comments made by the Minister for Home Affairs and Environment (Mr Cohen) and people such as Senator Martin, the Committee has decided to give priority to that part of its reference concerned with kangaroo harvesting. It seems it is necessary, because of the debate taking place in Australia and overseas, that the Committee should consider the reference and call for evidence. Substantial evidence has already been received and some evidence has been heard in public.

I suggest to those who are taking a position at this time to exercise some caution until the Senate Committee completes its investigation. I believe that kangaroo harvesting is of considerable concern to many sections of the community . It needs to be dealt with on the evidence before the Committee. It needs to be dealt with without confrontation, that is with one side aligned against the other. I think the Minister and Senator Martin have contributed to the confrontation debate and that ought not to be so.

There appears to be evidence before the Committee that questions the methods used in killing kangaroos, that questions the estimates of the kangaroo population and certain doubts have been raised which need to be examined. For that reason I suggest that we ought not now have the Minister aligned against the animal welfare people. I believe it would have been wiser if the Minister had not made such a statement which many people consider to be provocative. I think that the Minister would have been wiser to have waited until the Committee had completed its considerations. The Committee can assure the Senate that it will give priority to this reference and, if necessary and if the Committee so desires, it will bring down a minority report on the subject.