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Adjournment - Native Animal Numbers and Culling

4 September 2019
Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Madam Speaker, I rise to follow up on a question that I asked the minister for the Environment this morning and to encourage him to provide us with an answer as soon as he is able to. Before I go further on that matter, there has just been a release of yet more information through the Mercury from an RTI request that they put in to DPIPWE about the actual numbers of animals that have been permitted to be killed and have actually been killed through crop protection permits in Tasmania in the four and a half years from 2015 to the middle of this year. That information reveals that a staggering 1.857 million wallabies and possums have been killed in that four-and-a-half-year period. They have done the sums and that equates to 1100 animals every single day over that period. That is 1100 protected native species that have been killed in Tasmania, authorised to be killed every single day.

These numbers are in addition to the tens of thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands, of other protected native animals which were revealed by the right to information request that the Greens put in and we have spoken about that in parliament earlier this week.

Mr Shelton - You simply don't understand how much wildlife is out there. You must live in the city.

Dr WOODRUFF - They were Forester kangaroos, black swans, galahs, green rosellas and even wombats and platypus.

The reason I asked the Environment minister, Mr Gutwein, about this this morning is that we want to understand what is the evidence of population dynamics that is being used to justify the numbers of crop protection permits that are handed out for each of these species. There ought to be, for protected native animals in Tasmania, an understanding of the population dynamics and the impact that killing permits have on populations in local areas.

We know it was only because of the work of the Wombat Warriors in 2017 that crop protection permits were ceased for wombats in Tasmania, because up until that point 5087 wombats were killed in Tasmania from 2014 to 2018. It was only because wombats were dying in vast numbers from sarcoptic mange and in great pain that there was a spotlight shone on the impact of removing over 5000 healthy wombats from the total Tasmanian population.

Authorising the killing of healthy wombats when we know we have localised extinctions of wombats in other parts of the state because of a disease which was and still is rampant in that population is totally crazy. To people who have never understood this is the case, they are shocked.

We look forward to the minister, Peter Gutwein, coming back. He is not in the House but I am sure he will be watching, so I remind him that we look forward to the response. He said he would give it to us when it was at hand. Given that he has made some strong statements about the comprehensive and balanced approach the Government takes on this matter, it would be pretty obvious that those figures ought to be immediately at hand for his staff. The numbers that we are looking at is the population dynamics for localised areas for each of the native species in Tasmania.

We want to know when the last population studies were done because we and all Tasmanians want to understand what is going on. Clearly, if crop protection permits are to be handed out for landowners, there must be an assessment -

Mr Shelton - You obviously don't drive around of an evening.

Dr WOODRUFF - This is the point, Mr Shelton. The Forester kangaroo survey that was done in 2000 makes that point exactly. It is very easy to be misled by what you see in front of you in pastured areas. That can hide the fact that populations have absolutely become extinct in other areas because of changing landscape. It is all very well to take a single spotlight approach, and I know the Leader of the Opposition is more than happy to encourage us to go shooting wallabies and any other native wildlife that come into our way of a night.

Mr Shelton - You live in a bubble. Talk to normal people and you'll find out how big the populations are out there.

Dr WOODRUFF - Mr Shelton, normal people want to know that there is some basis to the crop protection permit process and that it they not just handed out like lollies just because this Government has failed to fund the Browsing Animal Management Program, failed to put the money where it should to support landowners, failed to do the work to support them with fencing, and all the alternatives to shooting which are available to landowners to employ. This is the job the Government needs to be doing. We have to be looking at keeping our animals with us. Tasmanians want our native animals to be with us in 50, 80 and 100 years time so we have to talk about what a balanced approach means. That means we need the evidence of population dynamics and we need to understand if it even exists at all.