2013 killing program — is it just to keep the budget allocation?
Stop Press: ACT kanga management update
by Maria Taylor
On 12 June, ACT Administrative Appeals Tribunal President Linda Crebbin granted a stay on the immediate killing of almost 1500 Eastern Grey Kangaroos in seven Canberra nature reserves.
Instead she recognised the standing of two environmental and animal welfare groups, Animal Liberation ACT and the national Australian Society for Kangaroos (ASK) to ask for reviews of the licenses granted by the ACT Conservator of Flora and Fauna to kill the animals.
Lawyers for ASK and Animal Liberation argued that they had specific, scientific and public interest concerns. They questioned whether the Conservator in granting the licenses considered the full extent of available data on ACT kangaroo densities, carrying capacity and also non-lethal management methods.
The ACT government’s closing argument, put to Ms Crebbins in an hour-long presentation that also told her what she should and should not do e.g. “disturb or critique management plans”, focused on the damage that a stay would inflict on the cull program, hardly mentioning the role of the Conservator, the actual respondent.
The government argued that it had already spent $190,000 on setting up the cull program since the beginning of the year, a good part of it on public relations and planning, and that a shooting contractor had been engaged (and might go away).
$6,232 was spent on kangaroo counts, $11,900 spent on corflute signs, another $9,700 spent on thermal camera, tarps, photo planning and stationary, according to a document presented by the parks director Daniel Iglesias.
Yet licenses were only granted in mid May and legally they should not be presumed. This is the fourth year of kangaroo killing that the government paints as a natural event and a vital part of park management. Mr Iglesias told the Tribunal that opposition to killing animals cannot interfere with government policy or the way he manages the reserves.
However Ms Crebbin noted that parks managers and the government ecologists who advise them on kill numbers, should have planned for the possibility of a review as allowed by law, and that if money is spent, if might be “wasted” if the conservator disagrees.
In handing down her decision she concluded that the issue came down to whether the parks are best managed with or without a cull.
––– Maria Taylor
Editorial comment: Watching the ACT parks director Daniel Iglesias and his Greens Minister conducting a page one media blitz in the Canberra Time, on ABC television and elsewhere in the past two weeks raises some troubling questions.
The stories all piled on reasons (unfortunately without research data or evaluation) for killing and burying kangaroos, supposedly on behalf of biodiversity as if kangaroos are not part of biodiversity. It begs the question: how easily have Territorians been propagandised to accept what they once found abhorrent and cruel?
Not so long ago in 2008 when this cycle started at the Belconnen naval station, there was major outcry from Canberra to Tokyo. Now the narrative is ‘how dare anyone oppose this good management plan and if they do they must be outsiders and troublemakers, or a bit nutty, and silenced at all cost.’
Isn’t this a little bit how totalitarian states operate?
Leading to a federal election
The Animal Justice Party (AJP) told the Bulletin “We will not deliver any preferences at the September federal elections to the major parties or to the Greens if there is any killing of kangaroos in Canberra by the ACT Government in 2013.
The AJP calls for a moratorium on the killing of kangaroos until the following five major concerns are resolved.
First, the significant difference in kangaroo population estimates between the ACT Government and independent research; second, the failure of the ACT Government to demonstrate any ecological benefits from kangaroo killing in past years.
Third, significant evidence of brutality during the ACT Government kangaroo killing program; fourth, the failure of the ACT Government to consider proven no-harm measures such as the translocation of kangaroos from unsuitable habitats;
Fifth, the failure of the ACT Government to provide wildlife corridors and habitat improvement for all Australian native animals in the ACT.