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Wednesday, 16 October 1974
Page: 1732

Senator COTTON (NEW SOUTH WALES) - My question is addressed to the Minister for Customs and Excise. In reference to the ban placed on the export of goods made of kangaroo fur, is it possible for him to lift the ban on manufactured goods or at least give a definite date as to when the ban will be lifted? I am informed that there are manufacturers who have great quantities of these articles. Some 1,500 employees are dependent on the ban being lifted as the local market is not able to use the amount of goods being manufactured, even though there has been a cut back in production over the last 18 months. I am informed also that only Government authorised culled pelts are used. Therefore it would seem sensible that full use be made of these by-products.

Senator MURPHY - Of course, it is possible to lift the ban but the question of whether it should be done is another matter. The Senate may recall that the ban, as such, was imposed in 1923. The law then provided- since then there have been some slight changes- that there should be no export of such items as the skins of native animals of Australia. A provision was added that these skins could be exported with the consent of the Minister. Until last year, of course, the Minister responsible always consented in the case of kangaroos. This matter has been examined and it was found that there was no proper nationally co-ordinated program of conservation and management, despite all the suggestions that there was such a program. Therefore, consent was refused on and from 1 April.

My understanding is that we have still not reached any nationally co-ordinated program of conservation and management. Some States have endeavoured to do this; there has been quite a bit of progress in some of the States. What has happened is that no commercial exports have been permitted, but noncommercial exports of manufactured goods have been permitted. We have probably reached the stage where the non-commerical export should be restricted to those articles which derive from those States or certainly those places which are acting in accordance with the working program for conservation and management, as an encouragement to the others to pursue this course.

What disturbs me, though, is that I have been informed that a great deal of killing has been going on in the anticipation that this ban which the honourable senator has described will be lifted. I would think- and I am certainly speaking for myself- that under no circumstances would the ban be relaxed so as to enable the export of skins which have been taken during the period when the ban was imposed and which have been stored up in the thought that there might be some bonanza when the ban was lifted or consent was given. Therefore, I am not able to say more than that the ban, if one so describes it, might be intensified in the sense that only manufactured goods of non-commercial quantity when taken in accordance with the working program would be permitted to be exported in the future. If a scheme can be devised to do that, I think, this intensification would be in the interests of the conservation of kangaroos and an encouragement to those areas which were acting in accordance with the program.

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