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Wildlife Protection - Government Funding

5 September 2019
Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr WOODRUFF question to MINISTER for the ENVIRONMENT, PARKS and HERITAGE, Mr GUTWEIN redirected to MINISTER for PRIMARY INDUSTRIES and WATER, Mr BARNETT

Last week Tasmanians learned DPIPWE has authorised the killing of tens of thousands of protected native animals, including black swans, forester kangaroos, wombats and even platypuses to protect crops over the past five-and-a-half years. Yesterday, an RTI revealed permits authorised the killing 1 857 000 protected wallabies and possums during the same period. Today there is distressing news that more than 170 little penguins in various colonies have been killed in separate dog attacks in the north and north west this past year. Experts from BirdLife say the existence of penguins in Tasmania is now tenuous.

Your Government has a contemptuous attitude to wildlife protection, which includes gutting the Threatened Species Unit. Despite the handwringing, there is no effective inroads into stopping the slaughter of penguins by dogs. The penguin taskforce clearly does not have the money or power for mapping rookeries or DNA forensic testing.

Will you increase the taskforce's money and immediately consider far tougher approaches to stop dog attacks before we lose these beautiful penguins forever?

 

ANSWER

Madam Speaker, once again the question has been asked of the wrong minister. The appropriate minister is the Minister for Primary Industries and Water. He has responsibility under the -

Ms O'Connor - Why doesn't the minister for the Environment have responsibility for threatened species?

Madam SPEAKER - The minister for Primary Industries will answer the question.

Dr Woodruff - This is the problem. The problem is we have no environment minister who is paying any attention to what is happening to native animals in Tasmania. It is scandalous.

Madam SPEAKER - Order. Dr Woodruff, can you raise that in another forum.

Dr Woodruff - It is shameful.

Madam SPEAKER - You have made your opinion known.

Members interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER - Order, please, we have the Minister for Primary Industries and Water.

Mr BARNETT - Madam Speaker, as the Minister for Primary Industries and Water responsible for wildlife and for little penguin management, I am delighted to respond to that question. The question is in two parts: first, wildlife permits and crop protection permits, then the question on little penguins.

The Government tries to get the balance right. On the one hand ensuring that Tasmania's wildlife is appropriately protected, and second appropriately and sustainably managing the impact of browsing animals on the agricultural sector.

Dr WOODRUFF - Point of order, Madam Speaker, Standing Order 45. This is not about browsing animal management. It is about our penguin colonies and the penguin taskforce having no money and no power to do anything effective.

Madam SPEAKER - I am reliably informed by the Government that the minister for Primary Industries is the appropriate minister and he is attempting to address your question. I have to rule it out of order.

Mr BARNETT - The answer is in two parts. You had two parts to the question. The first part related to wildlife protection and the permits that you referred to in your question, and then I will address the penguin question.

Dr Woodruff - That was not the question.

Madam SPEAKER - Order, please.

Mr BARNETT - Madam Speaker, I am attempting to answer this despite incessant interjections from the Greens. We will always support farmers, foresters and land managers when it comes to sustainable management of browsing animals and their causing of excessive damage to crops, pastures and natural resources. Long-term wildlife population monitoring indicates the abundance of species subject to special permits remains stable or is increasing.

Dr Woodruff - Rubbish.

Madam SPEAKER - Order, this is most unparliamentary.

Dr WOODRUFF - Point of order, Madam Speaker. Could the minister please take that comment back because it is misleading parliament. It is misleading parliament to say there is any sustainable management of the penguin colonies in Tasmania.

Madam SPEAKER - It is not a point of order.

Mr BARNETT - I am responding to the question. Evidence indicates that quotas for crop protection permits are not being abused. I want to make it very clear for the benefit of those opposite with short memories, the issuing of crop protection permits has been a longstanding practice under governments of all sides, including the previous Labor-Greens government. In the last full year of the Labor-Greens government, 2013, 2783 permits to take native wildlife were issued. In 2018, 1081 permits were issued. For example, in the first year of the Labor-Greens government an annual take of more than 1 million wallabies was reported on the front page of the Mercury in 2010. There is the Greens hypocrisy when it comes to native wildlife. Their allegations are unfounded.

Dr Woodruff - You think these things go on forever. You think you can just take, take, take, shoot, shoot, shoot.

Madam SPEAKER - Order, Dr Woodruff. Warning one.

Mr BARNETT - Regarding little penguins, there were deaths at Doctors Rocks near Wynyard. That is very concerning. The Hodgman Liberal Government takes the protection of little penguins in Tasmania very seriously. They face a range of threats, both in the marine and terrestrial environment. Effective protection requires cooperative approach and action from all levels of government, the private sector and individuals.

Dr Woodruff - No, it requires money and power.

Madam SPEAKER - Warning number two, Dr Woodruff.

Mr BARNETT - To help protect this iconic species I was pleased to announce on 6 June that the Government would be reviewing the Dog Control Act 2000 with amendments with a view to strengthening the law and increasing the penalties regarding those who own those dogs attacking wildlife such as little penguins. That work is underway and will be progressed as a priority, noting that the peak breeding season for little penguins occurs over the summer months.

We have also formed with the Government the Tasmanian Penguin Advisory Group to provide expert advice to the department to enhance the understanding of little penguins and improve their protection across the state. I met with the Penguin Advisory Group just a month or so ago and I was very pleased to be well informed by their proactivity and their cooperation and collaboration with each other and the various groups around the state, working with local government, the private sector and those community groups. They are doing a terrific job. We are working together side by side to achieve appropriate outcomes to protect little penguins as appropriate. We are taking a measured approach that stands in stark contrast to that of the Greens with their frankly lunatic push for deployment of snipers at the relevant penguin rookeries around Tasmania.

Member Suspended

Member for Franklin - Dr Woodruff

Dr Woodruff - Shameful. You are killing our native animals. They will be extinct.

Madam SPEAKER - Dr Woodruff, I will have to ask you to leave because you have just hit a record three warnings. You can come back after question time.

Dr Woodruff withdrew.