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Tuesday, 12 June 1984
Page: 2828

Senator JACK EVANS(4.58) —I am very disappointed at the tenor of this debate because all honourable senators would be aware of the Senate Select Committee on Animal Welfare which is sitting at the moment. I am very proud to be a member of that Committee which is chaired by Senator Georges. I think that Senator Georges's statement was rational and fair. It was not aimed , as other speakers have endeavoured to do, at dividing this nation and pre- empting the argument, the debate, that is taking place and which will take place over the next few weeks and months. This is not a matter on which honourable senators need to be anti-farmer, or need to be anti-kangaroo or need to be anti anything. They need to look in a balanced way at the future of the kangaroo population of Australia and at the future, the survival, of the farms that can be affected where culling of kangaroos is necessary.

One of the fascinating things of which I have been aware for some little time and of which the Minister for Home Affairs and Environment (Mr Cohen) in his paper is obviously totally oblivious is that the animal welfare people are not anti-culling. I would like Senator Boswell to be aware of that because he is obviously oblivious to it. The animal welfare people are in favour of kangaroo culling where damage is being done to farms. I make that absolutely clear to the Senate, so that Senator Martin will have no reason in future to make speeches such as the one she made this afternoon. They are quite content for animal culling to take place. They may be concerned about the kangaroo export market which, whether or not there is a need for culling, seems to have the support of the National Party and the Liberal Party. In other words, that export market is at the expense of the kangaroo population. The Minister needs to address that matter instead of making stupid statements such as: 'If they attack me, I will attack them in kind, in public'. I think that we all agree that that was a pathetic thing for a Minister to say, particularly when he knows that a Senate committee is currently doing the job that he should have done some time ago; that is, to look in a balanced way at problems with the kangaroo population. The problems with the kangaroo population do not exist everywhere. In fact, I think it is fair to suggest that the great bulk of the kangaroo population is so many hundreds of kilometres away from farms that the farmers have absolutely no cause for concern at all.

Senator Boswell —Absolute rot!

Senator JACK EVANS —The figures are there to prove it. Again, if the honourable senator looks at those figures, he will find that that is absolutely right. I simply want to put some sort of balance into this debate so that the people who want to protect kangaroos in this country are not portrayed by the Liberal Party and the National Party as people who want to destroy farms. That is 100 per cent wrong as far as the people I talk to are concerned. I am talking now about farmers as well as the people who want to preserve wildlife in this country. I find it fascinating that when farmers, environmentalists and wilderness people are brought together to try to resolve this problem they are of one mind: Simply that where a problem exists created by excessive kangaroo populations, culling must proceed; where the problem does not exist and the kangaroos do not get into farming properties-in other words in the deserts and the back areas where there are no farms-the farmers are not all that keen to have this kangaroo export market proliferating to the point that it destroys the kangaroo population of Australia.

Senator Boswell —You have not talked to the farmers in the rural areas.

Senator JACK EVANS —You should talk to your farmers if you disagree with that statement.

The PRESIDENT —Order! I suggest that the honourable senator address his remarks through the Chair.

Senator JACK EVANS —I simply conclude by making once more an appeal to all honourable senators to wait patiently for the deliberations of the Animal Welfare Committee which the Senate appointed to look into this problem amongst a number of animal welfare problems. In my opinion, judging from the way the hearings of that Committee are being conducted and are going at present, all sides of this chamber will be very satisfied with the results and the recommendations that come down from that Committee.