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Tuesday, 10 September 1985
Page: 358

(Question No. 274)


Senator Missen asked the Minister represen- ting the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Environ- ment, upon notice, on 8 May 1985:

(1) What is the Government's current estimate of the kangaroo population.

(2) Why has the estimate referred to in (1) above been withheld from the general public when it should be available freely under the National Kangaroo Management Program.

(3) How does the Government explain the fact that some countries, notably Spain and Italy, have received considerably more kangaroo skins than Australian Bureau of Statistics figures indicate.

(4) How accurate are the ABS figures referred to in (3) above.

(5) Does the Government agree that there is a large illegal trade in kangaroo skins.

(6) Are kangaroo quotas set at a level to satisfy outstanding European orders.


Senator Ryan —The Minister for Arts, Heritage and Environment has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) Aerial surveys of kangaroo habitat were undertaken over extensive areas of Australia during 1984. For those areas surveyed, populations of the Red, Eastern and Western Greys were estimated to be in excess of 10.7 million. Areas surveyed represent approximately 45 per cent of Australia and an estimate of total number of kangaroos would require extrapolation from that figure.

(2) The population estimate for those areas surveyed has been derived from pooling survey data from a number of different sources. Estimates for which the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service was responsible were made public at the time quotas were set for 1985. Following agreement by the other organisations involved in survey work, their estimates were also made available publicly.

(3) The senator may be referring to a recent article `The European Trade in Kangaroo Products' which appeared in Traffic Bulletin Vol. VI No. 5 of 21 January 1985. In this publication, ABS statistics were questioned on the basis of claims by Italian leather dealers. I am not aware of any substantiation of these claims.

(4) This question should be directed to the Minister responsible for the ABS.

(5) No. Controls on the commercial industry in State kangaroo management programs operate to control kangaroo products entering commercial trade. There is no evidence of a large illegal trade in kangaroo skins available to me. All exports require a permit under the Wildlife Protection (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1982 and permits are only issued for kangaroo products taken under approved management programs. Substantial penalties exist for illegal activity.

(6) No. In setting quotas no account is taken of export orders.