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Friday, 29 November 1985
Page: 2613


Senator BROWNHILL(3.17) —I wish to make a statement relating to my dissenting report concerning the report of the Senate Select Committee on Animal Welfare relating to dolphins and whales in captivity, and to seek leave to incorporate the statement in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The statement read as follows-

In relation to this Senate Select Committee's report, I regret that I am unable to agree with all the recommendations made.

This is not an action that I have determined lightly.

While I came onto this Committee at a very late stage in this enquiry-with all the public hearings and committee visits already completed, I have nevertheless attempted to familiarise myself with all the evidence available to the committee, both in submissions sent in and evidence taken at public hearings.

On a general note, I consider that much of the report is overly emotive. I say that in the realisation that the subject is one that generates a great deal of emotion in the community.

However, I cannot accept, as a true reflection of the readings and evidence, the report as presented today by the Chairman.

Much of the report I am in agreement with. My objections lie with clauses [8.8]; [8.9] and [8.10].

Clause [8.8], I believe should be deleted. My reasons are stated in the report. In my opinion, I do not consider there is sufficient evidence to justify the conclusion reached in that clause.

Clause [8.9] ought to be altered as I have outlined.

My reasons for that conclusion are that I consider it would be folly for the committee to make recommendations that prevent oceanaria being established that would be, in all probability, given the stricter guidelines proposed, better than the majority of those currently in existence.

The report indicates, and the evidence certainly supports the contention that little is known about cetacea. Given that, to remove all oceanaria would reduce opportunities for scientific study and observation.

I consider clause [8.10] to be poorly worded. I do not believe the wording . . . `for the time being' responsible.

I do not consider such wording to be fair to those operators currently involved in oceanaria. Implicit in the recommendation is a threat that they could be closed down at any time.

I believe that if the guidelines recommended in the report are adopted, then conditions for keeping cetacea in captivity would at least equal the world's best, and very likely better any standards that currently apply in Australia or elsewhere.

Inherent in my recommendation is the need for operators of current oceanaria to upgrade their operations to a situation where they are able to breed their own replacement cetacea.

I consider my recommendations take into account the welfare of cetacea in captivity, while recognising the economic aspects of captive cetacea operations.

Captive cetacea, rightly or wrongly, involve large amounts of invested capital, and while I have endeavoured at all times to recognise the welfare of the animals as paramount to the enquiry, I do not believe the economic aspects of the situation can be ignored.


Senator BROWNHILL —I seek leave to continue my remarks later.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.