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Culling of Native Wildlife - Crop Protection System
Parliamentary Activity - Tuesday, 3 September 2019
Dr WOODRUFF question to MINISTER for PRIMARY INDUSTRIES and WATER, Mr BARNETT
How do you justify your department's authorised killing of more than 21 000 black swans, 10 000 native hens, 5000 wombats, 44 000 sulphur-crested cockatoos and 50 000 forester kangaroos since 2014? These are among yellow-tailed black cockatoos, galahs, masked black wings, gulls and hundreds of thousands of other protected native animals on your Government's licence-to-kill list. What do you say to those Tasmanians appalled to hear that seven platypuses were also included in culling permits? Don't you agree your Government's all-care-and-no-responsibility crop protection system is pushing an unknown number of native animals towards extinction in Tasmania?
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for her question on what are very important matters. Let us make it very clear that this Government always wants to get the balance right. I will also say that we always want to support our farmers, foresters and land managers in the way that they sustainably manage browsing animal populations that are causing excessive damage to their crops, pastures and natural resources.
Where wildlife is causing excessive damage, crop protection permits are allowed and are granted to enable those applicants to take that wildlife if alternative non-lethal strategies are not effective or practical. I make the point that the rules -
Dr Woodruff - But you don't ask those questions.
Madam SPEAKER - Dr Woodruff, warning number one.
Mr BARNETT - I make the very important point that the rules and guidelines we are applying now as a Government applied under the former Labor-Greens government and other past governments in this place. We will strive for continual improvement -
Ms O'Connor - No, you're not. What, so you can kill more?
Madam SPEAKER - Ms O'Connor, warning number 1.
Mr BARNETT - Regarding the process, let me make it clear that the department of Primary Industries in determining those permits considers: the assessment of the damage; the alternative management measures; the species abundance and the status at a local, regional and state level -
Dr Woodruff - What's the species abundance of the platypus? It's a disgrace the platypus is on that list.
Madam SPEAKER - Dr Woodruff, warning number 2.
Mr BARNETT - and requirements to uphold the relevant animal welfare standards and guidelines. It was this Government that improved, increased and toughened the laws when it came to animal welfare. We increased the penalties. The Greens member for Franklin knows that - it is all politics, no policies from the Greens.
Dr Woodruff - Tell that to the Tasmanians who are appalled to hear about platypuses being killed.
Madam SPEAKER - Order, Dr Woodruff.
Mr BARNETT - In terms of issuing crop protection permits, it has been a longstanding practice under this and previous governments. The TFGA recently stated that these permits are a very necessary tool for the agricultural sector. The TFGA has the utmost confidence in the department, in the administration, of those crop protection permits.
Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker. Dr Woodruff asked the question: does the minister agree that this wholesale slaughter of native animals is putting an unknown number of them on the edge of extinction?
Madam SPEAKER - That is not a point of order but it has been recorded on Hansard. I will let the minister continue.
Mr BARNETT - In terms of that question, the answer is no. Let me address the range of allegations that have been made in the question, many of which are unsubstantiated. We are committed to ensuring that those relevant tools are available for the farmers, foresters and land managers to do their work in a sustainable way, to sustainably manage -
Dr Woodruff - So you don't care what native animals -
Madam SPEAKER - Dr Woodruff, you have two warnings. The next one you are out.
Mr BARNETT - browsing animal populations that cause excessive damage to their crops, pastures and natural resources. We are there to get the balance right.
I will address the issue of the platypus permits. The department has not issued any permits for the deliberate killing of platypus. Permits are issued to the IFS to support the vitally important carp eradication program. The European carp is an invasive pest and can dramatically affect our freshwater ecosystem. Members in this place and around the community support the efforts that have been undertaken since 1995 - long-standing, world-leading efforts with a fantastic objective. We are near the backend of the campaign to eradicate carp from Lake Sorell and Lake Crescent. More than 41 000 carp have been moved from Lake Sorell. These permits were issued on the basis that the netting for carp may have resulted in platypus being caught with the intention of releasing them from the net alive. Permits issued in the earlier part of the program had a quota as the carp netting was relatively intensive. Including a quota in the permit provided a trigger to periodically review the impact of the program on the platypus.
In the later stages of the program the setting of a quota was not considered necessary due to the less widespread carp fishing and hence the lower likelihood of taking a platypus. I can advise the House that since 2012, 15 platypus were inadvertently caught during carp fishing operations. Of these, eight were released unharmed. Unfortunately, seven died. No platypus have been caught since 2017.
The Government wants to get the balance right. We support our farmers, foresters and land managers. In light of the reset on the weekend, what is Labor's position on this issue?
Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker. It is quite good fun listening to the Government attack Labor but you cannot devolve on the question of the slaughter of native species to an attack on Labor, which is completely unrelated. The minister is being opportunistic. I implore you to pull him into line.
Madam SPEAKER - I do not believe that is a point of order. I ask the minister to resume.
Mr BARNETT - Thank you, Madam Speaker. The same rules as under Labor and the Greens are under our Government. We are just improving the situation to make sure that we get the right balance. In terms of the rules and crop protection permits, the question for Labor is: do they continue to support them and the rights of our farmers, foresters and land managers to use our crop protection permits in a balanced way?
Ms O'Connor - It was part of the keynote speech, spotlighting wallabies.