Further update, Wed 15 June: Assange mentioned only once this week in Parliament this week, whilst German MP speaks up (see Appendix 2 below). Although Julian Assange was not mentioned either in the House of Representatives or the Senate, yesterday, on Tuesday 13 June, there is still good reason to hope that, over the remaining 7
I emailed the following to Independent Tasmanian MP Andrew Wilkie and to a number of other members of the Bring Julian Assange Parliamentary Support Group on the evening of Monday 12 June, the day before the 13 June resumption of the sitting of both the House of Representatives and the Senate. How you can help : Contact your local Member of Parliament, your state Senators or members of the Bring Julian Assange Home Parliamentary Support Group and ask them to vote for my proposed motion, included below or, at least, to vote for the procedural motion to allow Standing Orders to be suspended so that motion can be put. Please let us know here on candobetter of your efforts, any responses or lack thereof.
Included below is an example of the letters I sent late in the evening of Monday 27 March to each of the 40 members of the Bring Julian Assange Home Parliamentary Support Group. I point out that, in spite of its size, the efforts of this group so far appear to have made little difference towards making the Albanese government act to end the UK's illegal imprisonment of Assange or even to just hold this government to account for its failure to do so.
The following article has been adapted from the leaflet handed out at the weekly Vigil for Julian Assange in the evening of Friday 17 March 2023 at Melbourne's Flinders Street Station: Julian Assange, the multiple award-winning Australian journalist, has been imprisoned in solitary confinement for 23 hours per day in London's Belmarsh pr
Canberra Conversations SUNDAY 19 March 2023 AT 3:30 PM – 5:30 PM Smith's Alternative, 76 Alinga Street, Canberra, ACT, Australia, Australian Capital Territory. 3 speakers plus forum.
Are we really living in a Democracy?
JOIN THE CONVERSATION
Come to our first ever Canberra Conversation to discuss with 3 expert speakers whether we do indeed live in a democracy and if not what we can do about it.
Join us - rally, say No to War – protect truthtellers 8am Monday 20th March at the ACT Courts. On the 20th anniversary of the illegal invasion of Iraq, and as the Coalition of the Willing which was responsible for the illegal invasion of Iraq on 20 March 2003 has regrouped as AUKUS, we should remember the legacy of that disastrous war and other destructive wars.
As the embedded YouTube video below shows, yesterday, on 30 November 2022, in the House of Representatives, during question time , Dr Monique Ryan, the independent member for the north-eastern Melbourne metropolition seat of Kooyong, pointed out to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese that only political intervention will free Julian Assange.
There are two critical facts which, to me, don't seem to have been taken into account by many of those, both here and overseas, who are fighting for Julian Assange's freedom. Had these facts been understood and then acted upon, I believe that Julian Assange would be free today or, at worst, our prospects of freeing him in the near future would be much greater than what is now the case.
This article points to the utter failure of Australia's parliamentary system to deal with Julian Assange's predicament and the associated public concern.
On Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this coming week, the national Parliament of Australia, the country of which Julian Assange is a citizen, will be sitting. Around the world, there is a huge popular outcry in support of Julian Assange. This includes other governments, and parliaments, including the government of Mexico, the Mexico City Council and the German Bundestag. They have all demanded of the British Government that it end its illegal imprisonment and torture of Julian Assange and, of the United States' government, that it end its illegal attempts to extradite Julian Assange.
The Australian Wildlife Protection Council (AWPC) was able to help citizen advocates generate a groundswell of public awareness and fight-back in June and July 2022 against the now annual ‘cull’ in Canberra of the kangaroo (our icon holding up one side of the federal coat-of-arms). Whole kangaroo families are shot behind suburban backyards — for reasons that remain unclear despite government blame-the-victim narratives — on nature reserves in the national capital.
One fact, apparently not properly appreciated amongst the vast popular movement in support of Julian Assange, both in Australia and overseas, is that, in spite of the fact that the Government of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese could make the British Government release Julian Assange today, it has chosen not to.
Title was South Australia's Parliament to debate Julian Assange's plight this coming Wednesday - Why won't Canberra? Update, Sun 6 Nov 2022: Parliament will be sitting Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this coming week.
No sign of Anthony Albanese at this brilliant event, although we know he was in parliament.
Update, Tue 26 July: A new larger PDF file which includes a duplicate of the first double-sided A5 page has been uploaded. Without this addition, the second page will be blank. I am about to find out if the problem is fixed. My apologies.
In place of urban sprawl, urban consolidation is supposed to reduce our environmental footprint, by compacting housing for less car usage, more “affordable housing”, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. On the contrary, it tends to have the opposite effect.
Trees, which provide shade and act as natural air conditioners, play an important role in helping to create cities that are more resilient to extreme temperatures as the climate warms. But, trees are being cleared for the cluttering of cookie-cutter, generic concrete multi-unit blocks, instead of the garden-surrounded an identifiable single houses of a few years ago.
The "heat island effect" results from hard surfaces absorbing and then radiating heat, thus capturing hot city temperatures. Experts say this phenomenon is expected to become more prevalent with increasing urbanisation and will exacerbate climate change impacts.
ANU research shows that some of Canberra’s inner-city suburbs are the most heat-vulnerable in the territory, despite the benefits of their leafy tree-lined streets. It showed Canberra’s mostly-treeless outer suburbs were likely to be up to seven degrees hotter in summer than those with more established trees - such as those inner suburbs.
In that study of 21 Canberra suburbs, researchers found temperatures could vary by as much as 7.5 degrees between treeless postcodes and those with more trees.
ANU Researcher Dr Liz Hanna said: "If we have planning designs and housing designs where there's insufficient front and backyard to plant a tree, and if street trees are not shade trees, we think that's foolish”. We agree it's “foolish”, but with high rates of population growth and increasing urban density, backyards and traditional housing with gardens and trees, are disappearing.
Up to 100,000 Victorian premises were threatened to lose power during the January heatwave as demand crippled the state's electricity grid.
Melbourne is following the lead of Asian cities such as Hong Kong for extreme housing density, with more people living in apartments. The housing affordability squeeze, and the marketing of thousands of tiny apartments to investors, is threatening to undermine Melbourne’s liveability.
Mr Tony Arnel, Victorian Building Commissioner, suggests that buildings above three storeys begin to use more energy due to the need for lighting in common areas, lifts, security and the lifestyle of residents. The Victorian Building Commission has found there is “no conclusive evidence that vertical living was more sustainable than conventional homes.”
A NSW Energy Australia study found that high-rise apartments use 30 per cent more power than a typical detached house. The use of air-conditioners is a mandatory part of the lifestyle.
Climate change is predicted to increase the number and intensity of heatwaves experienced in Melbourne. Along with the densification of our city, and a population that's projected to double by 2060, it means the converging effects of more power being soaked up by a growing number of apartment dwellers, more power outages, higher utility and health costs - and the compounding factor of higher greenhouse gas emissions.
Loss of Vegetation to make way to mobilize more people
To build the East West Link tunnel under Royal Park, the Melbourne City Council estimates that some 5,000 trees, many very old, would be lost. The remnant bushland in West Royal Park, the only area of this kind of vegetation left in Melbourne, would be dug up. By actively cooling the urban landscape, vegetation helps reduce energy use and carbon dioxide emissions, and ultimately lessens the risk of residents suffering heat stress, heatstroke or even death…
Wetlands from storm water, which supplies water for Melbourne's parks and street trees plus the Royal Park Golf course, will be completely destroyed.
The East West Link/tunnel will increase temperatures in Melbourne, and the nibbling away of Green Wedges for urbanisation will compound the problems of power demands, infrastructure break-downs, anti-social behaviours, and deaths/illness from heat stress.
The SEC provided cheap and reliable power to Victoria for 70 years. Selling off Victoria's power supplies and raised some revenue in the short term but in the long term it has resulted in a huge financial burden on the entire population through rapidly increasing prices. Now, unplanned overloads and outages are placing extra stress on the power grid, one that's fine-tuned for profits rather than service.
Privatising state owned assets is a strategy is to reduce employees, and increase remuneration to share holders and owners.
Population growth driven by heavy economic reliance on property development
The population of major Australian cities is expected to double in the next four to five decades, thanks to high rates of net overseas immigration.
The government powers-that-be in Canberra view the economic growth meta-statistics and see our economy is “growing”, without considering democracy, the costs of growth, and the human-environmental fallouts. They simply open up the draw-bridge of our borders and allow the new-comers to flow in from oversea! Planned increases in urban density are likely to result in the removal of a significant number of trees from urban areas.
Canberra’s population could increase to 904,000 by 2061 according to new projections released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. This growth means significant challenges for governments and ACT infrastructure. There's no diplomatic, administrative or public service increases to justify this growth, except general population overflow.
Melbourne’s population is swelling by 2 per cent a year, or at a doubling rate of 35 years. The power infrastructure must not only be routinely maintained and upgraded or replaced every 50 years, but must keep expanding at 2% each year - and also cope with outages and heat-waves.
We need a u-turn in our economy from a growth-based, road-dependent, high resource and energy-consuming one that's trapping us in islands of heat - to an alternative model that's bio-centric and human-friendly, and relevant to an age of extreme weather patterns, and the hostilities of climate change.
ACT Parks and Conservation Service director Daniel Iglesias said these kangaroo "culls" would only occur ''every now and then'' to bring the number of kangaroos down to a sustainable level to vaccinate to control fertility.
These ecologists are playing "god" and obviously don't trust Nature, or natural evolutionary/environmental methods to stop "over abundant" native kangaroos. TAMS Parks and Conservation director Daniel Iglesias said the cull would ensure kangaroos level are kept to an appropriate level and would protect threatened ecosystems and other animals.
ACT Parks and Conservation Service director Daniel Iglesias said these kangaroo "culls" would only occur ''every now and then'' to bring the number of kangaroos down to a sustainable level to vaccinate to control fertility.
These ecologists are playing "god" and obviously don't trust Nature, or natural evolutionary/environmental principles, to limit "over abundant" native kangaroos. TAMS Parks and Conservation director Daniel Iglesias said the cull would ensure kangaroos level are kept to an "appropriate level" and would protect threatened ecosystems and other animals. It assumes that kangaroos are excluded from ecosystems!
What are "sustainable" or an "appropriate level" except for esoterical words that are flexible, covering with "greenwashing" implications? It's also a word used to justify native animal massacres. What real ecological evidence is there of numbers being not "sustainable"? None have been revealed, and with the ignorance of most of Canberra's population, they will accept the status quo, from a government-employed "expert".
An anti-fertility drug in bait form could be available in the next 10 years, but the ACT government will still use firearms to help control the abundance of eastern greys in Canberra. Research officer Claire Wimpenny said the most recent trial had shown positive indications for a successful vaccination. It's ironical that the real environmental threats don't come from wildlife, but urban expansion and human population growth.
Highly skilled marksmen?
Activists found kangaroos with bullet wounds to their bodies, contrary to government policy, which states that the animals must be shot in the head.
TAMS Parks and Conservation director Daniel Iglesias said the government employed "highly skilled" marksmen who were able to hit their targets. With carcasses quickly disposed of, and little transparency, the activists are the only source of reliable information.
However, clean head-shots would require almost Olympic standard skill as kangaroos are likely to be moving, and they have small heads.
Mr Iglesias said the RSPCA approved of using firearms to prevent the "over population" of kangaroos. It remains qualitative and subjective, and without sound ecological support or empirical evidence.
(brochure - thanks to Sylvia Raye)
Mulligans Flat- long history of cattle grazing
Mulligans Flat contains areas of native grassland which are of interest as south-east Australia has lost 99.5% of its lowland native grasslands in the last two hundred years. Native grassland areas were attractive to European farmers for grazing sheep and cattle, consequently, most of these grassland areas have been changed by grazing and pasture improvement. Mulligans Flat has retained areas dominated by both kangaroo and wallaby grass as well as open forest and woodland areas and it has few introduced grasses or weeds. The reserve was included in Canberra Nature Park in 1994.
The Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary encloses over 400 hectares of critically endangered yellow box-red gum grassy woodland. The aim of the sanctuary is to restore the woodlands to pre-European condition by removing feral animals including foxes, cats, hares and rabbits and reintroducing locally extinct species. Just how do kangaroos conflict with this aim, rounded together with "feral" animals, considering they are part of the pre-European ecology? There still hasn't been time for the ecological systems to fully restore from 200 years of destructive cattle grazing, and it's all to easy to use kangaroos as scapegoats for Nature's struggle to restore the systems to pre-European pristine levels.
Mulligan's Flat with Kangaroo group
Density estimates of 1.42 kangaroos per hectare were made in Mulligans Flat in August/September 2008. This doesn't sound like an "overpopulation"! Kangaroo numbers will naturally fluctuate according to the seasons, and this so-called, "humane", surgical removal and disposal of native kangaroos from Nature parks is based on questionable, self-serving arguments.
Our native symbols - bloodied, dead and buried
The grisly photos from a dug-up mass grave show bloodied corpses clutching hairless joeys, all victims of Canberra's barbaric bureaucratic "management" of Australia's iconic marsupials.
Why is a national organisation standing for 'all creatures great and small' supporting an annual and bloody kangaroo 'cull' in Nature Reserve Parks in Canberra, of all places? Aren't Nature Reserves supposed to be a place for all creatures to feel safe and protected? You have to wonder how an animal protection organisation can stand by and say nothing about the egregious cruelty for no justifiable reason, year after year. Do they think the public is so stupid as to believe the lies that kangaroos 'overgraze' and are a threat to other species?
I certainly don't believe it - here is my open letter to the RSPCA.
I write regarding the current slaughter of kangaroos in nine of Canberra’s Nature Reserve parks. Apparently 2000 kangaroos have been buried in Kama and Mulligans Flat Nature reserves, including possibly the much-loved stars of the recent ABC documentary ‘Kangaroo Mob, Madge and her joey Sonny.’
Only a few months ago cattle were brought into these parks to control the overgrowth of grasses, so clearly you cannot use the excuse of kangaroos ‘overgrazing’. As for being a threat to other species, no scientific proof has ever been shown that to be the case, yet every year the ACT government announces another sickening massacre of our country’s national icon.
WHY???? WHY IS THE RSPCA NOT CONDEMNING THIS? IF RSPCA IS SUPPOSED TO BE OVERSEERING IT, WHY ARE THEY PERMITTING THIS EGREGIOUS CRUELTY TO OCCUR AND WHY ISN'T RSPCA TAKING ACTION????
Last year 75% of the kangaroo population in so-called ‘Nature Reserves’ of Canberra were ‘culled’, again with no justifiable reason since there was plentiful grass.
Requests for FOI by the Australian Society for Kangaroos (ASK) have been ignored within a legally reasonable time frame. ASK uncovered the battered and shot bodies of 300 + kangaroos showing multiple cases of throat, jaw and face shots of adults and joeys, decapitated joeys and mature kangaroos with smashed skulls. All bodies exhumed were NOT killed by one shot to the brain as required by the Code of Practice but had multiple face and neck shots and incompletely severed heads. This raises the very serious question of the brutal nature of this massacre, supposedly overseered by the RSPCA.
It is difficult for me to comprehend the horrific manner in which these innocent native animals died at the hands of these shooters – and ultimately Canberra’s politicians.
This abject cruelty was attempted to be hidden from view by burying the kangaroos in the pits and starting new pits. Activists also found evidence that kangaroos had been herded into a fenced area at the back of Kama Nature reserve where multiple parallel 4WD tracks appeared to repeatedly drive towards the fence trapping the kangaroos, presumably in order to be shot.
It is truly time for this charade to end and for prosecutions to begin. I call for the RSPCA to put pressure on the ACT government to cease this illegal, cruel and unnecessary killing of our kangaroos. Animal rights activists are exposing Canberra’s hypocrisy to international arenas and this will negatively impact tourism to ACT and Australia.
These photographs of a mass-burial pit in Canberra for kangaroos gunned down by the government was sent to me by 'Friends of AnimalArmy' with the message, "We cannot find an investigative journalist anywhere who will expose the corruption and the lies." I cannot understand why not. Don't we want to know the truth?
Do we want to know the truth?
I think that Australians do want to know the truth, but it seems that the mass media is letting us all down.
This infinitely sad photograph of the dead kangaroo with bent head and hand placed around the body of a hairless joey might remind some of you of pictures of Mary and the infant Jesus, and others of bodies in a pit in Auchwitz. The point is that the photograph documents a deeply tragic mistake on the part of the ACT government, that taints it as brutal and dishonest. This is one of several remarkable photographs that came to me via "Friends of AnimalArmy," with the message,
"We cannot find an investigative journalist anywhere who will expose the corruption and the lies."
"They are shooting 20 metres off major 4 laned highways during peak hour in full view of all traffic, being the ACT Govt they are untouchable and do not answer to anyone."
In the early hours of Sunday morning 3 June 2012, activists uncovered a large mass burial pit at the Kama nature reserve. It contained up to an estimated 300+ slain kangaroo bodies. Evidence was discovered amidst a slurry of mud and blood illustrating unethical and illegal practices including throat shots, partially severed joeys and mature kangaroos with smashed heads. The large kangaroo among the small and tiny ones is a big mature male.
These images were taken of an unearthed pit where hundreds of kangaroos have been buried during this 2012 cull. The images are graphic and may be distressing but think how the kangaroos felt. Can any of us imagine? It is most important to share these truths around to friends, families, colleagues, media, and politicians. Blow the lid off the dodgy 'wildlife management' that goes on in the ACT and blow the lid off the mainstream media conspiracy to hide the facts from Australians.
Click here on Animal Liberation ACT’s new website for further information on what you can do to help!
When I received these pictures from friends of 'AnimalArmy', I wondered where to begin to describe what I can see is happening. Leisa's poem (above) sums it up. Leisa has said to me that the longer she knows kangaroos, and she has worked intimately with them for 25 years, the more impressed she is by their intelligence and their capacity to love - "not just their own species, but humans as well." She also says, "When I look into a kangaroo's eyes I see a capacity to analyse."
In contrast to the Canberra male half-buried in mud, the picture at the bottom of this article is of a healthy South Australian animal interacting with a friendly photographer.
 This poem by Leisa Moore, a kangaroo rescuer in South Australia was originally written in memory of 453 Belconnen Kangaroos Killed by the A.C.T. Government in a Kangaroo Management Cull, 2009. Leisa called it, "Message from a Belconnen Kangaroo, 'Reflection In My Eyes'.
"Canberra's Nature parks will be closed tomorrow for a "cull" of Eastern Grey Kangaroos. About 2000 are to be slaughtered for a "sustainable" number, to protect the flora and fauna. Polls of about 600 residents reveal that 79% of the city want the killings to go ahead. It's ironical that 9 "Nature" parks will be closed, under that assumption that kangaroos are not part of Nature and a threat to conservation efforts and sustainability.
Endangered flora and fauna are being threatened by "over-abundant eastern grey kangaroos". Just how does Daniel Iglesias, the public servant responsible for the decision, actually evaluate what is "abundant" or "sustainable"?
There are never any government polls or public debate on what is a sustainable human population, for Canberra or any city. Kangaroos are native animals, living in harmony with the environment, and softy-treading animals on the Earth. Humans, on the other hand, drive cars, use energy-consuming technology, change irrevocably the landscape, emit greenhouse gases and pollution, but there's no discussion on human "carrying capacity" or sustainable numbers, only for kangaroos!!
Animal activists have located what is believed to be fresh graves at Mugga Lane where 2000 of Canberra's iconic kangaroos will be buried during this year's slaughter, including the stars of the recent ABC documentary "Kangaroo Mob". Despite claims by the ACT government that their killing program is about protecting threatened species, they have failed to provide any credible evidence to support this claim.
The ACT government has also refused recent Freedom of Information requests from the Australian Society for Kangaroos relating to questions about recent culls in ACT nature parks. The Canberra government has breached multiple FOI laws by failing to respond to our request about their kangaroo culls within the legal time frame.
Thanks to the Australian Society for Kangaroos for the photo:
One of the intended burial sites for the kangaroos was switched to another location yesterday after the activists stumbled upon the proposed burial ground in south Canberra.
Parks and Gardens Conservation services director, Mr Iglesias, said the culling was necessary to keep the number of kangaroos at sustainable levels that did not have a detrimental impact on other animals and plants. Just how is "sustainable", a vague and ambiguous word at the least, measured? Grasslands were used by pastoralists for many years causing species extinctions and land degradation. Nature should be allowed to find a natural balance to restore ecological systems, and this includes kangaroos.
Something very shonky is going on in Canberra with unjustified massacre of kangaroos. As the previous blog mentioned, no science to back it up.
Learn some more facts and take action! We can only stop this if lots of people take action!
Two years ago the Canberra Environment and Sustainability Resource Centre wrote a compelling document explaining how kangaroos help the environment in so many ways. It was written at a time when another big cull was being decided so of course Maxine Cooper, the Commissioner for the Environment, ‘culled’ the document and demanded return of funds paid to CESRC, and the document can now only be found online at http://www.nokangaroomeat.org
And here we go again! It’s that time of the year boys and girls, when the shooters get out their guns and have a shooting spree till the end of June and wipe out thousands of beautiful, healthy, environmentally friendly, gentle kangaroos and their babies, the national icon we are all so proud of that we put its image on our aeroplanes, on logos ‘Proudly Australian Made’ and title our best rugby teams. (See http://candobetter.net/node/2063 )
Science or Fun?
Yet we also ‘humanely’ (of course) shoot the females, bash the offspring to death or chop off its still living head or leave the at-foot joeys orphaned to die alone, cold, hungry and afraid without their mother’s love and protection. And why? So we can feed to our dogs naturally. Also for fun.
death or left to starve, broken hearted
In this case, it’s just for fun. Why? Because there is no science to back up these ‘culls’.
Daniel EIglesias from ACT Parks and Conservation talks about a kangaroo population ‘explosion’ within Canberra’s Nature Reserves. He says up to 3,427 kangaroos will be shot.
He says that ACT Parks has calculated the numbers by ‘sitting back and thinking how many kangaroos can these areas sustainably manage so we can have a healthy population of kangaroos, but also healthy populations of other animals.’
How incredibly scientific of them. I think nature has a way of balancing out populations very nicely, thank you Mr Iglesias, without man’s interference. In fact, every time man interferes, he ‘stuffs up’. Ever wonder why Australia has the worst reputation in the world for mammal extinctions sir? It’s because of government departments like yours, sitting comfortably back and playing God, rearranging the pawns in the game of Wildlife versus Man.
He goes on without giving any evidence so far of actual kangaroo numbers in the parks or any evidence of certain species being ‘threatened’ by kangaroos. He’d be hard pressed to come up with any proof like that, considering that kangaroos have been living in harmony with other species for up to 16 million years.
In fact, according to that report by the Canberra Environment and Sustainabillity Resource Centre, kangaroos help many species to survive, quite the reverse.
After that he expresses concern that grasslands and woodlands could be overgrazed by kangaroos, again with no evidence that it is happening, or in fact, has ever happened. There is no evidence, anywhere, of that. It’s all just a big myth.
And then he maligns our poor kangaroo for ‘soil loss’. Our soft-padded native kangaroo, creates soil loss. What about introduced feral livestock with hard hooves, wouldn’t they cause soil loss? Indeed, but they are off ACT Parks’ radar.
Parks assures us that while the cull is higher this year than last not to worry because it isn’t too many compared to the general kangaroo population. Is Iglesias comparing the numbers of kangaroos to be killed in Canberra’s Nature Reserves to the total numbers there or is he comparing numbers to be killed to the total kangaroo population of Australia?
No matter how good a year they have had, what with rainfall etc, each kangaroo can only give birth to one per year and of those born there is an 80% attrition rate, meaning only 20% survive. So it’s not like their population can double in 12 months. Besides the new kangaroos are still only joeys, 12 months old and dependent on their mothers. That means this year’s ‘cull’ will be primarily the killing of joeys since the ones not killed the previous year who are approaching 2 years of age are still not adults and only just independent of their mothers.
How sad and shameful. Read the media release at:-
Express your outrage
Hard questions need to be asked. For example:-
1. Has there been an official count of kangaroo populations on the six reserves where the killing is to take place?
2. Where is the proof and how did they arrive at the numbers?
3. Since the quota is 75% of the total estimated populations (3,427 out of 4,482), and since last year was a drought, where is the precautionary principle in action?
4. What if there is a drought next year (or any other disaster or epidemic disease which kangaroos suffer from) and you wiped out 75% last year, how can that be regarded as sustainable especially when the commercial quota is only 15-20%?
4A. Did you forget about the high to extreme risk or even certainty of a cascading of extinctions of various endangered species (insects, lizards etc.) if all kangas were removed altogether? Kangaroos are considered a keystone species in the ecosystem, that all other species relied upon for reasons relating to kangaroo dung. This means that if Parks "overshoot" with their killing total estimates and end up leaving no kangaroos in a particular area, that is likely to have a devastating impact on the species reliant upon the kangas' presence, including the endangered ones.
5. While kangaroos have lost their natural predator, the dingo, they now have a much more formidable predator i.e. humans (via habitat loss, feral dogs, foxes, barbed wire fences, cars, farmers with guns, hoons) and that is not even counting bushfires and drought. Why is Parks not factoring this in?
6. If there is no overgrazing by kangaroos and overgrazing causes loss of habitat and soil, why the concern for endangered species now or into the future? Don Fletcher's thesis clearly shows that there is no relationship between kangaroos and overgrazing, so kangaroos endangering species is a myth.
7. Why isn't Parks ACT introducing fertility controls (such as at Belconnen in 2008) or relocation.
8. Why aren't there wildlife corridors to help kangaroos move on should there be no more food for them in the future? If they could move out, there would never be a need for killing or relocating them.
9. What is the cost (yes the public is entitled to know) of shooting 3,500 kangaroos?
10. Will you be killing the in-pouch joeys or throwing them live into the pits with their dead mothers?
11. Will orphaned and bashed joeys be included in the death count?
12. Has there been any factoring in for kangaroos who will die from stress myopathy in coming weeks as a result of watching their families get murdered and fleeing in terror?
13. Would Parks ACT be willing to consider an urgent quote for relocation of the 'surplus' kangaroos?
14. Are livestock allowed to graze on Parks and Lands properties? If so, wouldn't that be more of a concern with regard to soil loss and overgrazing?
15. Has Parks ACT given any consideration to the effect of their 'culls' on wildlife-loving Australians, many of whom are right now unable to sleep or eat, suffering from depression and anger because of this 'cull'? What else would drive them to leave the comfort of their homes at night in sub-zero temperatures to go to the Nature Reserves and try to intervene, risking not only their health but also their lives (in case they are shot) and potentially their police records and finances (in case they are charged and fined)?
Contact the following:-
* [email protected] (Office of the Commissioner for Sustainability + Environment)
* [email protected] (Project Co-ordinator, Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary)
* [email protected] (Chair – Steering Committee, Conservation Parks + Lands)
* [email protected] (Member of Parks and Lands)
* [email protected] (Member of Parks and Lands)
* [email protected] (Member of Parks and Lands) (02) 62 071-911
* [email protected] (Dr Tony Peacock, CRC for Biological Control of Pest Animals) 02 62 725 525
* [email protected] (Dr David Shorthouse, Member Parks ACT, Visiting Fellow ANU - 02 61-250 663)
* [email protected] (Dr Penny Olsen, ACT Flora and Fauna Committee Representative 02 61 252-536)
* [email protected] (Dr Adrian Manning, ANU, member Parks ACT 02 61 255-415)
* [email protected] (ACT Minister for the Environment, Simon Corbell MLA)
* [email protected] (ACT Chief Minister – Katy Gallagher)
http://www.pm.gov.au/contact-your-pm (PM Julia Gillard)
* [email protected] (Federal Minister for Environment, Tony Burke)
* [email protected] (RSPCA endorses all ACT culls)
Or better still, go to Canberra and be present to watch and document the sordid massacre of our country’s national icon and their babies. That is one thing the killers hate, to be watched doing their dirty deeds. You might even be called to a protest. I hope there will be a huge one in Canberra one day, the sooner the better, with thousands of people rallying against the largest slaughter of land-based wildlife on the planet - i.e. kangaroos.
Please vote for the kangaroos. You can use up to 10 votes per issue. At present kangaroos are at #79 so we need more votes. Please get the word out to your friends. Thanks.
Parks and Conservation Service Manager Daniel Iglesias says up to 3427 kangaroos will be "culled" in the ACT. It's really no more than like pulling out a few errand weeds, and it's for their own benefit!
Ostensibly it is to maintain populations to appropriate levels to protect the integrity of ecosystems, several of which contain endangered flora and fauna. It's no more than a matter of thinning out some of those nuisance and feral kangaroos to allow genuine natural ecosystems and native species to flourish, and of course a government department will want to be seen protecting endangered flora and fauna! It's also so the grasslands are not overgrazed, and thus provide habitat for ground-feeding birds and other creatures on the ground. Lethal management sounds quite in order and even logical! It's all very politically correct. Who could argue against conservation science? Forget that these "pests" are our native iconic animals, family mobs, living where they rightly live!
The sites to be closed are Mulligans Flat Nature Reserve, Goorooyaroo Nature Reserve, Mount Painter Nature Reserve, Callam Brae Nature Reserve, Jerrabomberra West Nature Reserve, Kama Nature Reserve and unleased territory land adjacent to Kama Nature Reserve. These “nature” parks are closed to kill native animals because they've been too successful! Can anyone else see the irony here?
Population control of kangaroos
The explanation for the "cull", or population control of kangaroos, appears to be quite scientific and ecologically sound. However, the science to support all these allegations is not evident or being revealed to the public. The Canberra and wider public deserve to know.
In an ABC interview, Mr Iglesias refused to answer questions about the number of kangaroos actually in ACT nature parks currently closed for shooting and how the joeys of shot females would be killed. Kangaroos are part of nature, but apparently not in the ACT's parks. Does he really know the density of kangaroos, their numbers, and if so, where are the results of the surveys?
Where's the evidence of "overgrazing"?
There should be evidence of overgrazing by kangaroos, and where. We should know what species are starving due to kangaroos overgrazing.
Kangaroos have been evolving harmoniously with all other species for 16 million years, something we modern humans have failed to do in our relatively short history in post-Colonial Australia. As for soil loss and erosion, it is mainly caused by livestock, not our soft-footed native marsupials that are perfectly adapted to our soils and vegetation.
The kangaroo "cull" sounds all very clinical has all the terminology of bona fide and deceptively robust science. However, the science isn't forthcoming, and cannot be validated or verified. True science encourages skepticism, reviews and inquiry, not stonewalling and political deception.
Vital evidence and data is missing
Minister Simon Corbell, chief of staff for the Environment said he had been toying around with so that we can find out the density of kangaroos across these nature reserves. He could not give the area of these nature reserves. The remaining kangaroos will be far less than the manufactured and magical limit of one kangaroo per hectare, according to what is set by their pseudo-science.
Don Fletcher on the Population Dynamics of Eastern Grey Kangaroos in Temperate Grasslands, seemed to previously discredit claims at the basis of these culls, and the need to manage reserves down to one kangaroo per hectare. For instance, he wrote on page 237 of his study that :
The study did not provide evidence that high densities of kangaroos reduce groundcover to the levels where erosion can accelerate. Unmanaged kangaroo populations did not necessarily result in low levels of ground cover. Groundcover had a positive but not significant relationship to kangaroo density, with the highest cover at the wettest site where kangaroo density was highest. Weather has an important influence on groundcover.
Kangaroos and grasslands have evolved in harmony together for tens of thousands of years and are mutually dependent. There is copious scientific evidence to prove this – and the scientists actually went out into the field rather than making subjective evalutions.
For the kangaroos' own benefit?
This "cull" represents 3/4 of the estimated population of kangaroos in the parks and will see the brutal death of around 1000 pouch joeys. ACT Parks and Lands staff say the cull is to stop starvation in case of a drought. Another source from Parks and Lands say there is no overgrazing! They say there is no overgrazing this year as there is plenty of grass but they need to kill kangaroos because their populations have increased by 60% and if they wait till future droughts they will have to kill even more kangaroos. They were worried about future conditions for these species if kangaroo populations are allowed to flourish. Ironically, no-one seems to worry about the misanthropic “future conditions” of human population growth!
A great environmental threatening process now is urban sprawl, far more impacting than the perceived "overpopulation" of wildlife!
Joeys to be dispatched - "humanely" of course
Furred pouch young are killed by a single forceful blow to the base of the skull (e.g. by a steel water pipe or the tow bar of a vehicle) and small furless pouch young are killed by decapitation or a single forceful blow to the base of the skull.30 A number of studies have shown that there is doubt as to whether the current methods of killing joeys ensure a sudden and painless death.
In many places, killing of young wildlife is considered an unacceptable practice, as evidenced by the banning of the products from Canadian Harp Seals in many countries, including the US, Mexico, Russia and the European Union (Keely Boom and Dror Ben-Ami Shooting our Wildlife: an analysis of the law and policy governing the killing of kangaroos THINKK)
The "cull" is based on subjective conclusions, not on science
This is subjective assessment of "too many" kangaroos - not about ecology or science of any type. They are hiding behind terms used in bona fide science, but it's greenwashing
Perhaps a ‘Four Corners’ on Australia’s treatment of its iconic and internationally-recognised native animals might go some way towards exposing the corruption and cruelty of the and “animal welfare” of the “cull” just like they exposed and uncovered Australia's vile and horrific live export trade.
Chair - Stephen Hughes, Manager, Parks and Reserves
Parks Conservation and Lands (PCL)
Email: [email protected]
Contact Officer: Daniel Iglesias (02) 6205 7151 [email protected]
How our taxes are used in hospitals and other prevention and treatment modalities is of almost as much importance as how our access to shelter and food are or are not guaranteed by our political systems. The Public Health Association of Australia has a broad interpretation of public health and is thus interested in population policy and housing. It is important to support the PHAA to influence public policy in all of these areas. The Association has a network throughout Australia, in rural and urban areas. As such it is among several organisations which has some potential to combat aspects of the property and finance based Growth Lobby in Australia.
The ACT Branch of the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) cordially invites you to:
PHAA's Great Election Public Health Debate and Dinner
PHAA's Great Election Public Health Debate, to be held at the Hellenic Club in Woden on the evening of Tuesday 10 August 2010, is designed to enable one candidate from each of the major parties to answer key questions and provide information on party policies on public health issues ahead of the federal election on Saturday 21 August 2010.
Gai Brodtmann, ACT Labor candidate for Canberra; Senator Gary Humphries from the Canberra Liberals; and Lin Hatfield Dodds, ACT Greens Senate candidate, have kindly agreed to participate in the event.
Candidates will each have an opportunity to provide a short overview of party policies on public health issues and will then be asked to provide answers to a series of questions on key public health issues in the national context. Candidates will also take part in a short question and answer session with the audience.
RSVP: Please complete the form and fax to PHAA at (02) 6282 5438 by
WEDNESDAY 4 AUGUST 2010.
Public Health Association of Australia
On 18th June, the ACT Government advised that areas within the Canberra Nature Park would be closed from 19 June to 31 July 2010 to allow for the controlled culling of 'over-abundant' Eastern Grey Kangaroos. The sites closed were Callum Brae Nature Reserve, Crace Nature Reserve, Goorooyarroo Nature Reserve, Jerrabomberra West Nature Reserve, Kama Nature Reserve, Mount Painter Nature Reserve, Mulligan’s Flat Nature Reserve and unleased territory land adjacent to Kama Nature Reserve.
This makes a mockery of 'nature park' when there is supposed to be a higher level of protection for native animals than in National Parks. It also makes a mockery of democracy when there was no public consultation on the cull. It also makes a mockery of science when the ecological benefits of native species is totally disregarded.
The purpose of this cull is to 'maintain kangaroo populations at appropriate levels to protect the integrity of ecosystems, several of which contain endangered flora and fauna such as Grassland Earless Dragon, Golden Sun Moth, Striped Legless Lizard, Perunga Grasshopper and threatened plants such as the Button Wrinklewort (a perennial herb).'
Apparently they are worried that the grasslands and woodlands will be overgrazed by kangaroos and threaten species and ecosystems. Yet where is the proof of this? I would like to see before and after photos. Since when do kangaroos create excessive soil loss and destroy habit for ground-feeding birds? That is something sheep, cows and humans do, not native species.
The cull is part of the recently released Kangaroo Management Plan (KMP) which sets out the ACT Government’s approach to managing the environmental, economic and social impacts of kangaroos to ensure their numbers are maintained at a sustainable level into the future.
I wonder when humans are going to maintain their own species at a sustainable level? It's obvious that the greatest threat to our native grasslands and woodlands is not kangaroos but human activity.
Apparently relocation (a compassionate approach) has been ruled out because 'that would be offloading the problem to another location' and lead to their starvation. How considerate of them. Killing them is better than saving them.
Why do we continue to close off green corridors with new housing estates and expressways that fragment Nature Parks leaving wildlife with nowhere to go? Until the government acknowledges this, the bloodshed will continue until kangaroos are no longer on the face of this continent. The relentless slaughter of healthy kangaroos is creating an ecological depression* which could very really push kangaroos over the edge of the precipice to extinction. We can already see signs of that at http://www.stopkangarookilling.org
(Flier: Sylvia Raye)
The RSPCA has failed abysmally to point out the sheer cruelty of the way joeys are despatched. Until a truly 'humane' way of killing baby kangaroos can be found no further slaughter should be allowed by anybody.
When a female kangaroo is shot, any 'in pouch' babies are killed by bashing their heads in. Also, as shooters have difficulty locating 'at foot' kangaroos (these are baby kangaroos still dependant on their mothers), whose mothers have been shot, these babies will most likely die a slow painful death from starvation, dehydration or predation.
Does the ACT government really think we have not noticed their hypocrisy? On the one hand they blame kangaroos for damaging grasslands and endangered species while themselves approving environmentally destructive projects such as:-
- 73 hectares red/yellow box to be destroyed in West Hume
- Canberra Airport runway extension dissecting Earless dragon colony
- Canberra Airport freight, shopping and office hubs built over and dissecting grasslands
- Proposed Cowan Expressway dissecting grasslands
- New and extended AFP training facility over Majura grasslands
- Dept of Defence Majura Training Area extended due to the increased volume of Defence training and traffic
- Symonston Long Stay Caravan Park debacle where land of high grassland value was sacrificed as compensation to developer
- Lawson Housing estate to be built over endangered colonies in the water tower section of the BNTS site
- Decontamination earthworks at the BNTS site wiped out tracts of grassland
- Irreversible damage done to BNTS grasslands by vehicles driven continuously across the grasslands to round up and slaughter kangaroos in May 2008
- New mega-housing estate at Downer destroying more grassland/woodland habitat that backs onto Nature Park
- Where are the 'Friends of Grasslands' and 'Limestone Plains Group of Scientists' on these issues? We haven't heard a peep.
Australia's Culling Territory
Cull after cull, the ACT is gaining the reputation as the Australian Culling Territory.
Why the obsession with exterminating kangaroos? In May 2008, 514 kangaroos were killed at Belconnen Naval Transmission Station and the reason given by the ACT Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment was:-
'At BNTS the natural temperate grassland is the habitat of the perunga grasshopper (which the Minister, on the recommendation of the Flora and Fauna Committee, has declared to be a vulnerable species), the golden sun moth and the ginninderra peppercress (both of which the Minister, on the recommendation of the Flora and Fauna Committee, has declared to be endangered species). Another vulnerable species, the striped legless lizard, has been found outside the secure area; however, it was most likely present in the secure area at BNTS in former years. Under the EPBC Act the golden sun moth is listed as critically endangered and the ginninderra peppercress and striped legless lizard are listed as vulnerable.'
The advice of experts who recommended against the cull was not taken into account. The offer to professionally relocate these kangaroos was rejected. As if that was not enough, because toxic contaminants were found in the soil at BNTS the remediation of the land naturally caused massive damage to all the above species and was not even questioned.
After the slaughter 4 wheel drives turned the place into a dust bowl. Then in came the earth movers to take out the toxic soil remediation required for the area to be a new housing estate. So much concern for endangered species or grasslands. The legless striped lizard, golden sun moth and ginninderra peppergrass were all buried without any further ado.
The construction of new housing estates immediately adjacent to the area gave no concern to the government. What about the dust and fumes from cars and trucks, the footsteps of people plodding through BNTS walking their dogs, playing with their children, and their cats killing fauna, wouldn't that have a damaging effect on endangered species?
There was no evidence that kangaroos threatened any endangered species but plenty of evidence that humans did.
Since Belconnen there have been several other large culls. In May 2009 over 7000 kangaroos were killed by the ACT government at Majura Firing Range once again on the grounds of 'degraded grasslands'. Once again, only junk science to back it up. No other options considered, no conservation experts bar Don Fletcher and RSPCA who know nothing of marsupials (their specialty is cats and dogs). Our experts were not called in but they were discriminated against because they have the best interests of the kangaroos at heart.
And in July 2009 550 kangaroos were 'culled' at Callum Brae, Nature Park in Canberra. The usual story i.g. kangaroos were eating too much grass but nobody talked about the degradation of grasslands by cows or sheep. Most likely the kangaroos at Callum Brae were deemed to be a problem by local farmers. Farmers hate kangaroos. Why don't farmers erect kangaroo-proof fencing instead of killing them on sight? Sheep's grazing pressure is 10-20 times higher than kangaroos so we are focusing on the wrong target.
As usual, it was declared that the cull would be 'conducted in the most humane way with highly trained marksmen using high-powered rifles according to the code of practice including hairless joeys to be decapitated and larger joeys shot at close range or injected.' Even Landcare said they were 'happy' with the 'cull.' What kind of monsters have we turned into?
Ecological benefit of Kangaroos
It's also time the ecological benefits of kangaroos on the land were acknowledged by governments, farmers, ordinary people i.e.
1. Kangaroos lessen the possibility of bushfires by eating dry grass that ignites easily.
2. Their soft padded feet and long tail are integral to the ecological health of the land, as regenerators of native grasses. Any seedling that falls into the long-tapering footprint of the kangaroo is buried into the hole left by the toenail. Covered and with moisture concentrated at one point, the germinated seedling has a chance of survival. Their tail drags along behind them while they are grazing, pressing the ground, rolling seeds into the earth.
3. Kangaroos also help regenerate native grasses (which is their preferred food) by excreting these seeds onto the ground thereby spreading the growth of grasses, undoing the damage caused by livestock which is turning this country into a dustbowl.
4. Kangaroos play an undeniable role in biological diversity and ecological integrity.
5. Their urine and faeces is a natural fertilizer (not excessively high in nitrogen which pollutes ground and surface water like livestock waste), essential to the health of the soil meaning that many species depend on kangaroos.
6. Unlike livestock kangaroos do not produce greenhouse gases (methane, nitrous oxide), drink massive quantities of water, cause soil erosion, loss of soil nutrients and soil ecosystems leading to deserts. Nor do they destroy wildlife like the livestock industry does by shooting, deforestation and habitat destruction. If they were allowed to co-exist with livestock they could undo the extreme imbalance caused by cattle. Government statistics show that kangaroos only exert 1-8% of grazing pressure on land.
Therefore, the more kangaroos, the better for the land.
Kangaroo Extinction Around the Corner?
It's time we had a real government environment department that did proper studies on how to protect our native species from extinction. Australia has the highest rate of wildlife extinctions in the world because our government is in collusion with the Kangaroo Industry, which it subsidises. If it had any economic sense it would be supporting nature-based eco tourism worth $85 billion to Australia (compared to a measly $250 million to the kangaroo industry). A kangaroo is worth more alive than dead.
Take a look at how kangaroo populations have crashed since 2001 on
You can see that half of them have gone in less than 10 years. Shouldn't we be taking the precautionary approach, considering the drought and other factors? What would Australia be without any kangaroos? We would have to take the kangaroo off our national emblem, off Qantas jets, we would have to rename rugby teams and every business that uses kangaroo on their logo would have to remove it so as not to have the constant reminder of how we have FAILED to protect these magnificent animals.
It's time the ACT government was challenged on their view that kangaroos overgraze (their own literature shows that kangaroos only have 1-8% grazing pressure compared to sheep and cows - http://www.environment.gov.au/soe/2006/publications/drs/indicator/162/index.html )
Another report from CSIRO shows that kangaroos do not threaten sheep: http://www.publish.csiro.au/paper/WR9740027.htm
I can't help but wonder if in a few short years governments, due to their chronic short-sightedness and predictable mismanagement, will be pleading for endangered kangaroo species whom it helped drive to the state of quasi extinction just as with the Grassland Earless Dragon.
Not only for tourism but consider some of the new information coming out about biodiversity.
It's time people woke up to the horrific way we are trashing our wildlife in particular our national icon. These are sentient beings with feelings we are talking about, not pests to be dispensed with because they are 'in our way'.
Who is the Real Pest?
Kangaroos have been living harmoniously with their environment without driving a single species extinct for at least 16 million years and they are perfectly suited to their natural habitat. Government's speculation that kangaroos are driving other species extinct is a projection on man's part. Only man is causing the 6th Mass Extinction of all species on the planet and that is a scientific fact. Man's insistence on destructive European farming techniques has caused a large part of the problem in addition to urban spread putting too much pressure on native species by destroying and polluting their habitat.
The result of all these cumulative government 'culls' (in addition to the illegal killing, farmers quotas, roadkill, loss of habitat, fires, floods, drought) will lead us to ecological impoverishment.
The Role of Farmers
Additionally the intolerance of farmers towards kangaroos who put pressure on politicians to kill kangaroos needs to change. We need to adopt a mentality of 'live and let live'.
Personally I would like to see the livestock industry fold. There are many other reasons for this besides the threat to any fauna that is not a cow, sheep or cattle dog. The livestock industry causes deforestation (a major influence in causing the drought) and biodiversity loss from loss of habitat for wildlife. It also causes pollution of groundwater and surface water and pollution to the air through methane and nitrous oxide. Then there is soil erosion and loss of soil ecosystems from the hoofed feet and the fact that cows and sheep pull up grass by the roots. Finally the incredible amount of water needed dwarfs all other industries combined. Clearly the only diet for a sustainable future is a plant-based diet. That would take up less land than livestock require and with kangaroo-proof fencing there would be nothing for farmers to complain about. It would be a win-win situation for wildlife and farmers.
Kangaroos are not overpopulated. Sheep are overpopulated (there are 5 times more sheep than kangaroos) and the human race is definitely overpopulated (at 7 billion). Kangaroos were here first remember and should have the simple right to live in peace.
Once again, humans are the main culprit of endangered species and it is wrong to blame another species that has always lived in harmony with the land.
* An ecological depression is where a species critical mass is reduced to where the species can no longer survive due to factors such as a compromised gene pool and disease.
Many thanks to Y.IZITSO for her brilliant cartoons.
Photos of Acacia and Lily kangaroos are by Brett Clifton
A professional review of the ACT Kangaroo Management Plan by Professor Steve Garlick MCom (Econ), PhD, FAUCEA
The ACT Kangaroo Management Plan significantly, and disturbingly, fails society, the economy and the environment in the ACT and its contiguous region in numerous ways. In many respects it is a dishonest, unscientific, inconsistent, biased and unethical report that perpetuates ignorance of the place of humans in the natural landscape and fosters a culture of disrespect and harm.
From a societal and learning perspective the Plan:
• seeks to widen the physical and psychological separation between humans and nature;
• condones animal cruelty as a management goal;
• seeks to put total control over the general public’s common good assets in the hands of the ACT Government;
• incites the use of firearms and violence as a means of solving perceived environmental problems;
• ignores the emotional distress inflicted on sections of the community by its proposals;
• suggests no place for an education program to enhance our knowledge of a creative eco-literacy that fosters hope rather than destruction;
• offers little in the way of sympathetic urban planning; skates over occupational health matters;
• undervalues economic implications; and disregards international opinion and concerns.
From an environmental perspective the Plan:
• fails to provide an ecological end-point as a goal for its recommended actions against the kangaroo;
• fails to identify any integrated ecological monitoring framework to ensure continuous improvement in ecology over time;
• disregards the metaphysical aspects of the landscape and its importance for Indigenous Australians and others who respect and wish to connect with this ancient and unique land and its natural inhabitants.
From a scientific perspective the Plan:
• disregards research that demonstrates that kangaroo killing is a short-term and ineffective instrument;
• ignores evidence that successful kangaroo translocations from difficult and unsafe urban and peri-urban areas have been carried out;
• accepts research from other regional locations as explanatory of the often argued to be ‘unique’ local grassland systems, because there is no professionally-recognised local science on the mutual dependence of kangaroos and grasslands;
• relies on survey estimates of kangaroo numbers that are almost certainly wildly inaccurate;
• bases its research conclusions on ‘association’ and the circumstantial rather than on causality;
• erroneously refers to the research of others, such as in relation to the connection between road accidents and kangaroo populations;
• is inconsistent with other conclusions its representatives have stated in other public fora, particularly in the area of ‘research’ on kangaroo movement;
• assumes the kangaroo provides no net positive benefit to the landscape without any evidence to support this;
• provides resident survey results that are distorted by their dependence on questions based on incomplete information.
From an economic perspective the Plan:
• does not undertake any formal cost/ benefit analysis and conveniently downplays the tourism potential of kangaroos, despite the considerable national and international evidence that highlights the significance of wildlife as a global tourism competitive advantage;
• dangerously further concentrates the dependence of the ACT economy and its budget bottom line on land development (and therefore habitat destruction) for housing and commercial expansion;
• further diminishes any ‘points of difference’ Canberra might have had globally as a medium-sized city existing in harmony with its natural environment, and is consistent with steering the national capital in a direction that is no different to the ugliness of other urban sprawl and motor vehicle-dominated cities.
The draft ACT Kangaroo Management Plan significantly, disturbingly and dishonestly, fails society, economy and the environment in the ACT and its contiguous region in the following ways:
Failures for Society and Economy:
1. The Plan seeks to widen the gap between humans and nature by promoting further physical and psychological separation.
Increased urban concentration, rural subdivision and rapid transit highways in the ACT and surrounding rural areas have increased the psychological and physical distance between humans and wildlife. Human habitation in the ACT is becoming more and more estranged from nature, and fewer ACT residents have regular, if any, direct contact with the indigenous wildlife of the region. The result of this is that people do not have the ability to observe and admire, but rather see all forms of wildlife, particularly if large or poisonous, as threatening, and want them removed. Such behaviour is not conducive to any notion of ‘bush capital’, respect for ‘otherness’, or to a healthy and sane outlook on life. Similarly, any international visitors who wish to see kangaroos in the ACT are required to make the half-day journey to the Tidbinbilla ‘Nature Reserve’ (where kangaroos are also ‘culled’)for this experience. Various tourism studies of Tidbinbilla remark on this disadvantage.
The Plan fails to honestly portray the welfare aspects associated with its recommended actions to reduce kangaroo numbers. It therefore condones animal cruelty.
The myth that a single gunshot to the head of a healthy kangaroo is humane animal welfare needs to be rejected outright. Even if we accept the unrealistic assumption that a kangaroo shooter will be one hundred per cent accurate, what actually happens in practice is more than enough to convince us that kangaroo shooting is inherently cruel. The report: A Shot in the Dark, by Dr Dror Ben-Ami dispels the myth of kangaroo shooter accuracy.
When its mother is ‘humanely’ shot, the orphaned ‘pouched’ joey is ripped from its mother’s pouch, decapitated, stomped on, or swung repeatedly against the nearest hard object until its head is crushed and its fragile limbs fractured. This is a brutal and dark aspect of ACT Government policy of which few residents appear to be aware. The ‘at-heel’ offspring of the dead mother is deprived of its mother’s company, milk and protection and forced to flee and fend for itself against predators such as foxes and marauding dogs. When large male kangaroos are killed the social structure of the mob is destroyed, one consequence of which is a lack of control over the behaviour of juvenile males towards immature females.
Even if not killed outright, the fleeing, fearful and possibly injured kangaroo will often die a lingering and excruciatingly painful death, which could take months. Pain, exertion and anxiety create physiological and biochemical changes in metabolism leading to lactic acidosis and muscle damage, including to the heart muscle, the release of myoglobin, renal failure, tissue hypoxia, paralysis, and progressive damage to the liver, adrenal gland, brain and lymphatic system. No fair-minded human with an ounce of compassion could possibly believe there is anything ‘humane’ in any of this, but it is doubtful that ACT Government surveys of residents’ perceptions of kangaroos include this information.
The Plan fails the common good.
The ACT Government actively promotes the killing of perfectly healthy orphaned kangaroo joeys because it is perceived that they represent a problem for local grasslands, which ironically are often scheduled for development. ACT Government rangers regularly kill infant orphaned kangaroos by smashing their bodies against hard objects. They will not hand these joeys over to experienced carers. The RSPCA similarly kills orphaned kangaroo joeys that are brought to them in good faith by the general public.
Kangaroos, and all other native animals, are ‘owned’ by the Crown, not by governments, farmers or anyone else. Wildlife enhances the common good assets of all the citizens of our nation. This is why our unique wildlife is the second most important reason why international tourists come to this country. Sadly, killing of kangaroos in this Territory and in this country has become such an ingrained cultural pastime that it is now the largest single mammal slaughter in the world. Governments are given responsibility for protecting and enhancing our common good assets. They are not given carte blanche to degrade or diminish these collective assets, whether they are kangaroos, other wildlife, air, water, or any other important elements of our natural world. The Plan does not appreciate the universal significance of the wildlife it seeks to diminish.
The Plan presents to society an ethical view that solutions to human-perceived ‘problems’ in the environment are best dealt with using firearms and violence.
The Plan presents a view that kangaroos need to be killed by shooting and where healthy joeys are killed by painful and stressful heart puncture without sedation.
The so-called ACT Code for the Humane Destruction of Kangaroos, even if it was considered ethical, is not adhered to in the killing programs overseen by the ACT and other governments. The herding and consequent stress and injury that occurred at the Belconnen Naval Transmission Station (BNTS) slaughter several years ago, without any consideration by government, is testament to this. The evidence of blatant kangaroo brutality in the form of harassment, continual herding, stress, pain, terror and separation, apparently overseen and approved of by a national animal welfare body, veterinarians and government officials, was totally inconsistent with Codes of Practice and completely unethical. The Plan does not provide a compassionate perspective toward wildlife. The disconcerting statements at page 95, 4.61b proves the ACT Government and its employees endorse illegal and harmful action according to the requirements of the Code of Practice as shown in the available video evidence of the herding undertaken by ACT Government employees at BNTS. Such government endorsement to harm encourages and incites the unscrupulous, the mentally disturbed, and the brutal to maim and kill wildlife illegally for their ‘pleasure’, whether by the use of firearms or other weapons of destruction. Peer-reviewed literature demonstrates a strong connection between animal cruelty and cruelty to humans. Mass murderers Ivan Milat and Martin Bryant, among others, had previous records of cruelty to animals, and child and spouse abuse in the home are often connected to episodes of animal cruelty by male adults.
Those of us who spend a large part of our lives caring for other beings are profoundly affected by the harshness, cruelty, and brutish and blustering forcefulness in the language, reports and actions of uncaring and unknowing institutions, their ‘leaders’, and their paid acolytes in our local communities and extended society. Kindness, compassion, respect, giving, and a willingness to closely observe and learn are the qualities required of a good carer, a decent society and a respected and admired leader. Neoliberalism and its disciples have instead given us institutions and leaders that demonstrate meanness, self-interest, greed and a disregard for the other dressed up in bureaucratic and political spin, in the name of the euphemisms ‘economy’, ‘management’ and ‘conservation’.
A better society is when a gentle hand is extended to all beings to give a second chance, where there is kindness and respect, where suffering is relieved and when hope and opportunity flourish through interconnectedness. There is no respect for ‘economy’, ‘management’ and ‘conservation’ meted out with a gun and its associated nastiness. Conservation underpinned by cruelty is still cruelty. If there is no heart and no soul in this place and economic rationalism and complacency are the order of the day, society is diminished and unattractive.
The Plan promotes emotional distress for humans.
Knowing that a deliberate and cruel program of killing kangaroos and their joeys is being carried out is emotionally distressing to many humans. The slaughter of the kangaroos at the BNTS several years ago had a substantial emotional impact on the lives of many people in the ACT and surrounding areas, and many have sought ongoing medical attention as a consequence. The kangaroo killing program at Majura had a similar impact on those who are caring and compassionate in our society. By advocating more shooting of kangaroos and brutal destruction of their young, this Plan and the ACT Government are derelict in not recognising this emotional distress, and may be held accountable for the emotional health of many people in the region should this become a legal challenge.
The Plan fails to offer any mechanism of ecological learning that will ensure a sustainable future based on possibility and hope, rather than one based on destruction.
The Plan seeks to centralise ‘control’ of the environment with Government. However, if the planet we all live on is to survive, a concerted effort by all its inhabitants to enhance sustainability is required. Teaching and learning of an eco-literacy and initiatives to implement good living practice through our education systems are therefore significant. This Plan does not deal with wider questions of eco-literacy within any broad-based learning framework and therefore is deficient as a tool for environmental sustainability in the ACT and surrounding region.
Urban planning failure.
The Plan is primarily concerned with kangaroos eating grass. Of course there is nothing magical about that observation. However, the simplistic tenor of the Plan is to remove the kangaroo from its natural grassland habitat to enable development, without any strategy for habitat enhancement elsewhere. The default solution is always to kill the kangaroo, or to tinker with its biology through misplaced sterilisation programs, rather than to seek creative habitat-enhancing initiatives and wildlife corridors that facilitate better integration of nature and humans. Current ACT planning initiatives are focused on separating humans from nature and there are no planning initiatives to ensure wildlife safety, in particular of the kangaroo, in the face of rapid urban sprawl across the landscape. The ACT could well learn from the experiences of many other cities around the world which are bringing nature back into central urban areas because it has been demonstrated that such interaction is good for both humans and wildlife.
Community health and wellbeing.
The Plan fails to consider the human distress caused by killing perfectly healthy orphaned kangaroo joeys, as sanctioned by current ACT policy. ACT Government rangers, the RSPCA ACT, and some ACT veterinarians, use barbaric methods to kill these infants (bludgeoning, decapitation, heart puncture without sedation etc.).
The Plan fails to consider economic options.
The ACT economy is heavily dependent on a very narrow revenue stream from land development for housing and commercial purposes.
Tourism is an important industry and much more could be achieved in this area to enhance the economically-vulnerable nature of the ACT. Wildlife tourism is the second most important reason why international visitors come to Australia. However, Canberra is not taking advantage of this. In Canberra, any wildlife tourism is currently restricted to the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, which is a half-day visit away, not realistic for any tourists seeking to cover as much as they can in a short visit to the national capital. Visits to the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve are few, and even many school excursions to Canberra bypass this facility. The KMP does not consider the value of the kangaroo as an international tourist icon, and the kangaroo killing attitude of Canberra has made many international visitors decide not to visit the national capital.
McLeod (2004) found that Australian wildlife helped secure over $1.8 billion in inbound tourist dollars, and more than 14,000 jobs in the tourist industry. McLeod also estimated that the ‘costs’ associated with kangaroos, such as loss of production, vehicle damage, research etc. amounted to only $76 million.
There is more than an intimation in the Plan that the increase in kangaroo-related motor vehicle accidents is due to an increase in kangaroo numbers in and around the ACT. This would be an incorrect conclusion from the research that has been undertaken by Dr Daniel Ramp on this topic. Having read all Ramp’s work on traffic accidents and animals, I note that not once does he draw any conclusion that an increased number of traffic accidents reflects a change in size of the local kangaroo population. Quite the reverse, Ramp points to increased traffic flow, driver risk-taking behaviour, road design, vehicle engineering and animal habitat fragmented by human action as likely culprits.
While the KMP undertakes no cost-benefit analysis it is able to intimate through its extensive discussion of motor vehicle accidents that it is this factor and not tourism that is the significant determining variable in any economic impact analysis. Any serious cost-benefit analysis that includes the benefits of tourism, which only gets a few lines in the KMP, would overwhelmingly suggest that the economic benefits outweigh any economic costs.
A submission by the NSW Young Lawyers Animal Rights Committee in response to the NSW draft Kangaroo Management Plan (2001) argued that the Government had a role in actively re-educating the public, firstly to dispel the myth that kangaroos pose a threat to environmental and grazing interests, and secondly to remind Australia that it loses moral authority overseas on issues such as ’scientific’ whaling, and the slaughter of seals as a result of its ongoing wildlife massacres.
There is no doubt that the slaughter of kangaroos at the BNTS, within sight of Australia’s Parliament, and at Majura, has had a significant deleterious effect on international perceptions about the way in which Australia treats its wildlife. These negative international perceptions will be hard to overcome and the ACT KMP simply seeks to make these perceptions more entrenched by condoning, and even encouraging, ongoing cruelty to the kangaroo, our national icon.
Failures for the Environment:
The Plan fails to provide an ecological end point as a goal for its recommended actions against the kangaroo.
How will we know whether the stated recommendations of the KMP, if implemented, will actually contribute to enhanced ecological value if there is no target ecology articulated? What is the target ecology sought and how do we know that killing large numbers of kangaroos will contribute to this optimum ecological outcome, and to what degree? Simply taking two elements (the kangaroo and grasslands) out of the ecological system for analysis and intervention is completely unsatisfactory, when we all know there are many interconnected elements in a regionalised ecological system. Rather than ‘regionally endanger' one species (the kangaroo) in the hope that other 'threatened' species might become 'abundant', would it not make more ecological sense to focus on bringing the whole system into equilibrium by basing action on a full and thorough site- specific whole-of-ecosystem analysis? The Ramp and Roger paper: Our ‘common’ wildlife may be the next ‘sleeping’ threatened species, adds significant weight to this proposition.
The argument that it is morally acceptable to sacrifice one native species (the kangaroo) considered ‘overabundant’ in order to help others considered ‘endangered’ or ‘threatened’ cannot be argued on ethical grounds if kangaroos were properly recognised not as objects or automata but as sentient beings that suffer as humans do. The laws of the land in most societies would not allow such actions if we were talking about ‘the other’ in the form of humans and not animals. We have seen this hierarchical construction of self-meaning in the various Canberra kangaroo killing events in the last few years at the BNTS, Majura, Callum Brae and elsewhere. We see the same deficient ‘moral’ argument put forward by politicians and others in relation to the so-called kangaroo ‘harvesting’ industry and any association it might have with traditional agriculture production, and in the extraordinary statement by Garnaut that we ought to substitute kangaroo for beef in our diet to save the planet from climate change, when clearly the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions are anthropogenic, not wildlife!
The Plan fails to identify any integrated ecological monitoring framework for the future, based around its recommended actions to ensure continuous improvement over time.
The Plan offers no ecological temporal markers or frameworks for ongoing and rigorous monitoring to assess whether the claimed environmental benefits from reducing kangaroo numbers will eventuate. At a bare minimum, this is needed for transparency and accountability, but it is also required to ensure that continuous improvement is achieved and maintained.
The Plan deals only with the narrow biophysical and fails to consider the metaphysical of landscape meaning.
It is a sad fact that non-Indigenous Australians have a long-standing disregard for their adopted country’s unique wildlife and in particular for the kangaroo. Indigenous Australians have recognised for millennia the close emotional and mythological association with the kangaroo that gives fundamental meaning to the landscape we all occupy. The Plan considers none of this metaphysical landscape understanding.
‘Culling’: A blunt instrument with only short-term local impact.
The report by Olsen, P., and Low, T. (2006), “Update on Current State of Scientific Knowledge on Kangaroos in the Environment, Including Ecological and Economic Impact and Effect of Culling”, for the NSW Kangaroo Management Advisory Panel, suggests there is scant evidence that ‘harvesting’ (or culling) controls numbers, or mitigates perceived vegetation damage, except very locally, and that ‘culling’ is unlikely to be effective in anything but the very short term.
Inappropriateness of Translocation.
The Plan argues that from a ‘welfare’ and cost perspective the translocation of kangaroos and the creation/maintenance of corridors from areas identified for development (e.g. the BNTS, Majura Valley, Molonglo Valley), or in order to reduce perceived urban/ rural impacts (e.g. on farmers) is inappropriate.
However, wildlife relocation is an everyday occurrence around the world, carried out by zoos and other institutions. In Australia, translocation of kangaroos with success is also a common occurrence, although many such exercises have not yet been written up in peer-reviewed literature. Dr David Croft (per comm.) has stated “…there is sufficient information on the Eastern Grey Kangaroos’ status and biology in the wild to confidently conduct a translocation.” Campbell and Croft (2001) described the translocation of twenty hand-reared Eastern Grey Kangaroos near Mudgee.
There are also a number of articles reporting on the success of translocations in Tasmania, Victoria and New South Wales (eg Short et al 1992, 1995 Delroy et al 1995, Campbell and Croft 2001, Higginbottom and Page 2008, Tanner and Hocking 2001). In the local region the translocation of large and small macropods is a common occurrence. My 60kg wife and I do this regularly, with complete success for the animals concerned. We have now performed hundreds of these translocations (refer: Austen, R (2008). “Macropod fence injuries”, Paper to the National Wildlife Rehabilitation Conference, Canberra). In the past 18 months we have translocated and tracked 100 rehabilitated wild and semi-wild kangaroos back into the wild, with a 98% success rate (publication forthcoming: “Kangaroo Translocation: Program effectiveness and welfare goals”, International Journal of Animal Welfare Science and the National Wildlife Rehabilitation Conference, 2010). It is dishonest to state in the KMP that kangaroo translocation of wild kangaroos cannot be successfully carried out.
‘Outside’ science used to justify local circumstances.
The Plan, while emphasising the significance of the regional grassland circumstances in the ACT, fails to support its recommended local actions with completed and peer-reviewed scientific findings that relate directly to these same regionalised situations. Instead, the Plan draws from peer-reviewed research undertaken in other regions. If we are at all concerned about the ecosystems of the ACT there needs to be analysis of them in situ, rather than dragging in findings from other ecosystems, and importantly this research needs to be peer reviewed. It is just not satisfactory to waive this aside by saying it is not needed for policy analysis, as stated in the KMP. There has been ample time for the ACT to undertake research of peer-reviewed standard on the topic of kangaroos and their interactions with ACT temperate grasslands.
Use of the DSE.
The use of the dry sheep equivalent (DSE) is not logical as a proxy for kangaroo grazing within an ecological context. Why would the eating behaviour of an introduced, herded, hard-hoofed farm animal be used as a proxy for a native, free-living, soft- footed animal? Unless there is definitive kangaroo-specific, peer-reviewed, science the Plan’s conclusions about kangaroo impact will not be accurate.
The Plan’s data on kangaroo numbers has significant inherent error.
In calculating kangaroo numbers the analysis in the Plan accepts very high levels of coefficient variation. Survey data with this level of sample error are not at all convincing. More importantly, the calculated numbers take no specific account of age, size, physical condition or gender of the animals, the changing characteristics (water, grass, shelter etc.) over time of the land on which the kangaroos reside, and how kangaroos move across the landscape throughout the day and the seasons in response to many factors (wind, heat, cold, feeding time, resting time, breeding time, fires, water supply, human presence, predator presence etc,). It is a significant error to assume that a single head count at a single point in time in a number of set locations, whatever the method used (transect, distance sampling etc.), will accurately account for any of these variables, and therefore how kangaroos spread across the available landscape at other points in time. Conclusions from this analysis about kangaroo ‘overabundance’ or otherwise, density, or any increase or decline in numbers over time are thus spurious.
The Plan ignores the counterfactual
If kangaroos are being charged with eating too much grass in the ACT, where is the local peer-reviewed analysis that shows the specific local impact on this grass when numbers are reduced or completely eradicated, as in the case of the former BNTS site at Lawson? What is the optimum grass cover sought and how will the positive influences kangaroos have brought to grasslands for millennia be replicated when the grasslands are without kangaroos? Mowing, spraying, and hard-hoofed production animal agistment will not do this. The Plan considers the ‘eating grass’ aspect of the kangaroo, but does not consider the other attributes that add value to the grassland it has traditionally inhabited.
Grasslands were used as the final excuse for killing at BNTS. Subsequently, the toxic waste assessment report said that most of the grasslands would have to be dug up for remediation, and that seeds would need to be collected in order to re-vegetate after the bulldozers and trucks had completed their soil removal work. If this is possible, these grasses are clearly not as sensitive as we all have been led to believe. In other words, if degradation of 'sensitive' grasslands in the ACT is to be attributed to kangaroos, simply fence off the affected areas and undertake re-vegetation programs. Similarly we were led to believe that at Majura the kangaroos were damaging the ‘pristine’ grassy woodlands, but this woodland area is also heavily infested with noxious weeds.
When the ACT Government gave evidence to the ACT Administrative Tribunal during the hearing about kangaroos at the Majura Firing Range it stated (at paragraph 77 of the decision transcript): ‘…that EGKs tend to be relatively sedentary and loyal to a particular area’. However, in the ACT Government’s Kangaroo Management Plan (page 134) the notion of ‘site fidelity’ is dropped when it says there is a clear net movement of kangaroos between government reserves and private leasehold rural land. Which is it to be? Are they sedentary, or do they (as common sense would dictate) travel in search of food?
Disingenuous literature review
One has to wonder about the professionalism of the ‘science’ in the KMP when there is an apparent reluctance to submit work to peer review but where at the same time there is no hesitation in discounting the work of other well-respected researchers with literally dozens of peer-reviewed papers on the subject. On page three of the ACT Government Kangaroo Management Plan, for example, criticism is levelled at Dr David Croft. But it is Croft who has demonstrated his professional credentials in the eyes of many external reviewers. Indeed, Dr Croft's most recent paper was published in 2009 and appears to be a valuable comparison of the grazing pressure of red kangaroos and sheep.
KMP Peer Review Process
Public statements by the ACT Government in relation to the release of the KMP suggest it has been ’peer reviewed’ by Dr Graeme Coulson, in the hope that it might give the document some professional credibility in the community. In a small quote from Dr Coulson’r review statement to the ACT Government, it is noted [quote from ACT information release April 2010] that the “…use of the scientific literature is measured and pertinent; no key paper is missing”. While this statement is far from being one of overwhelming support for the KMP, it has to be noted how strange it is that a Plan that seeks to address environmental, social and economic matters in relation to the ACT should be reviewed by just one person with no professional or academic credentials in the areas of economy or society and only a narrow band of environmental management expertise limited to the ecology of kangaroo behaviour.
ACT Government Responses to Draft Plan Submissions.
In April 2010, the ACT Government issued its response to comments raised in some of the 70 submissions it received on the Draft KMP during the consultation period. The response is highly selective in the issues it seeks to raise and in a number of cases arrogantly dismisses them as being from ‘opponents’, rather than accept that perhaps, just perhaps, there might be people among those not supporting the Plan who actually know more about the topic at hand than does the ACT Government. Given that there were more submissions opposed to the Plan than supporting it, this is a lost opportunity for the ACT Government to learn from others.
The ACT draft Kangaroo Management Plan fails society, the economy and the regional environment in more than twenty important ways. The document is disturbing for its very narrow, short-sighted centralist approach to the region’s ecology. It is weak on matters of ecological sustainability and education in eco-literacy and seeks to allocate control of environmental sustainability to a small group of under-scrutinised and seemingly unaccountable to the public Government officials and their supporters, rather than allowing it to be the responsibility and concern of all residents in the region. The Plan is dangerous in supporting the further concentration of the ACT economy into a narrow dependence on property development rather than a more creative-knowledge driven future where nature might play a, uniquely, central role as distinct from other medium sized cities around the world that are overcome with the ugliness of urban sprawl and the motor vehicle. Finally, the research undertaken by the ACT Government is poor and unethical, being predicated on association and not causality and promoting practice that can be shown to be illegal. A more enlightened approach needs to be taken if questions of environmental sustainability and public involvement are to be taken seriously, honestly and ethically.
Fast forward a generation and where the kangaroo in this country will be and where the ethical and moral value of our community will be are not unconnected. It is a safe prediction that alterity in such future communities like the ACT will be non-existent.
Eastern Grey Kangaroos should be safe in our "Bush Capital", however, they are being rounded up, hounded and killed. These deaths are being justified not because they are "starving" now, but ironically, in the name of Conservation!
Kangaroos are not part of our economy, and don't supply jobs, and that is what everybody is concerned about now! People and livestock add to economic growth, and wildlife only get a few tourists.
Canberrians want to deny kangaroos even the little grass they eat because they are being labelled as an environmental "threat" due to some dubious and shonky pseudo-science! Even joeys, orphaned by road accidents, must be "humanely" killed instead of being cared for by wildlife rescuers, all in the name of "conservation" and "animal welfare"!
Kangaroos are part of our biodiversity, part of our bushland's ecology. Surely tourists expect to see mobs of our iconic native animals? However, thousands were "culled" for being "starving", which they weren't, and now they are being "managed" as an environmental threat!
Animal activists do not have a lot of funds, but they can advise tourists not to visit Canberra, especially if they hope to see the bush with its native kangaroo populations.
PROTESTS CAN BE MADE AT:
Australian Capital Tourism, General Manager Simonne Shepherd
Canberra and Region Visitors Centre
Enquiries 1300 354 154
The ACT head office
Email address for the Canberra and region visitors centre is [email protected]
ACT Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment, Dr Maxine Cooper, is ACT's inaugural full-time Commissioner in the role, yet what relevant environmental qualifications and experience does the incumbent have, or indeed lack, to be officially condemning another local indigenous popluation of Australia's iconic marsupials, our kangaroos, to slaughter for pet food?
The Environment Commissioner's own website lists her formal qualifications in the areas of Environmental Planning, Environmental Design and Environmental Science. All these 'environmentally' friendly prefixes sound impressive, until one realises that each of these areas of academic study are not fauna focused, but indeed all about human-centric utilisation of the natural environment for the benefit of humans. That is, these qualifications are all about maximising the convenience of the environment for humans. A wolf in charge of the kangaroos?
Such qualifications offer no insight into the survival and habitat needs of Australian wildlife. "According to ACT's inaugural Environment Commissioner, kangaroos at Belconnen were a threat to certain vulnerable and endangered species of fauna and flora on the site. Where's the bloody independent zoological evidence, who would attest to this view under the test of peer scrutiny?
Now if our roo-shooting redneck commissioner had a more relevant Bachelor of Science in Zoology from say the University of Melbourne, she may be of a contrary mindest, less aligned to human planning needs and monetary gains more empathetic to ecological needs of nativa fauna. The introductory paragraph for the University of Melbourne it Honours degree in Zoology online instills the followng focus:
"How animals live and why they live that way are questions addressed by zoologists. Most of the Australian fauna are poorly understood or not even formally named, yet informed management and resource use of Australia's flora, fauna and habitats depend upon zoological knowledge. We need to catalogue what species exist and how they survive in their natural environments. This requires knowledge of their physiology, breeding and reproductive systems, ecology, evolution and behaviour."
Maxine Cooper, where are your qualifications in zoology and in the conservation and Australian wildlife to entitle you to officially condemn thousands of Australia's iconic kangaroos to slaughter for cat an dog food?
Can you guarantee the Australian public that none of these kangaroos is to be minced for cat and dog food?
The standard setting for the job prerequisites for the ACT's Environment Commissioner are woeful and clearly not in the best interests of the target subject - our natural wildlife. What were they thinking by employing a planner in environmental management?
In May 2008 a total of 514 healthy kangaroos were exterminated on the former Belconnen Naval Transmission Station by the Department of Defence.
RSPCA-ACT chief Michael Linke insisted that the kangaroos were ‘starving’ even though eye-witness accounts and photographic evidence showed no starving kangaroos. They do after all, eat dry wild grasses, and have been doing so for the last 40 million years.
According to Dr Maxine Cooper, Environment Commissioner, the kangaroos at Belconnen were a threat to certain vulnerable and endangered species of fauna and flora on the site (Ginninderra Peppercress, Striped Legless Lizard and Golden Sun Moth), even though the EPBC Act lists threats other than kangaroos (such as weeds, feral animals, domestic dogs and cats, land clearing, agriculture, slashing, inappropriate burning, livestock, rabbits, rock removal and vehicles).
Yet cows were grazing in the adjacent paddock, apparently not a threat to the species listed (as if moths and lizards recognise fences!).
So if both excuses of starvation and threat to endangered species were untrue, what was the real reason for the Belconnen massacre last May?
#Housing Scandal" id="Housing Scandal">Housing Scandal
In The Canberra Times dated 18th March, 2008 an article titled Roo Cull Land Contaminated raised the issue of soil contamination in relation to part of Belconnen being released by Defence for housing. Soil remediation would be necessary.
Then again on 27th September, 2008 The Canberra Times printed another article, by Rosslyn Beeby, titled Revealed: Toxic Waste Dump which showed serious lead, heavy metals, asbestos, carcinogenic dioxin and PCB contamination in the soil and groundwater, even down to Lake Ginninderra.
The scandal was that ACT government wanted to build housing on contaminated land. As if remediation could possibly clean it up!
Defence has been aware of the problem since 1985. A 1991 report by Snowy Mountains Engineering Corp. called for a scientific assessment of the potential for pollutants to build up in native wildlife or people with frequent access to the site. The reports warn that
''no information is to be given out regarding the nature of the potential contaminants on the site''
for public information at community consultations and ministerial briefings about the clean-up.
The ACT has previously denied it plans to develop the land for low-cost housing. But ACT Planning Authority documents obtained by The Canberra Times indicate the Government has at some stage considered the site in plans to expand the suburb of Lawson.
The Defence reports recommend excavating 6000 cubic metres in some areas, to a depth of at least 6m from a former rubbish dump at the site, as well as removing 900 sq/m of topsoil from grassland where federally- protected plant and insect species occur. Just where are they going to put this toxic soil?
Local groundwater is contaminated by polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), toxins that accumulate in the environment and have been linked to cancer, liver damage and immune and reproductive disorders. Petroleum hydrocarbons are leaking into soils and groundwater from disused underground fuel tanks that still ''contain product'' in several areas. Does Defence think that local residents won’t connect the dots?
The land was assessed by Defence contractors for use as low-density housing and recreational. A Queanbeyan Wildcare spokesperson said that
if Defence had approved the proposal to move the kangaroos instead of killing them, health checks on the kangaroos would have revealed pollutants. In the past, blind sheep have been found grazing at Belconnen.
#The Majura Connection" id="The Majura Connection">The Majura Connection
busy 'degrading' their grasslands
There is a shortage of land in Canberra to develop housing and commercial estates. Developers are leaning on Defence to release more land, as at Belconnen. Could Majura be next? And is Majura Training Area contaminated too? We do know that the 514 contaminated Belconnen kangaroos were buried at Majura in a large pit. I can't help but wonder if Defence could be moving the toxic Belconnen soil to Majura.
The Hon. Mike Kelly, Secretary for Defence is gearing up to kill aproximately 6,000 kangaroos on Majura Training Area, which is 8,000 acres.
Nobody really knows how many kangaroos there are but the estimate is less than two kangaroos per acre (hardly excessive) yet Kelly claims that the kangaroos are starving and degrading the rare grasslands.
Where is the scientific evidence of starvation or degradation of grasses? There isn’t any, as with Belconnen.
Across the fence, a hobby sheep farm illustrates accepted ACT land management practices. This land is now a dust bowl (see picture next).
Yet the kangaroos at Majura are blamed for degrading rare grasslands. Which looks like it could support life and threatened grassland? Certainly not the clapped- out sheep farm.
Furthermore, according to locals, there is a plague of rabbits at Majura. Why is Defence more worried about kangaroos than rabbits who do far more damage to grasslands?
How ironic that our national icon is blamed for damage to the environment actually created by humans, especially when you consider that kangaroos benefit the land in many ways. They eat dry grass that livestock won’t eat, grass that ignites easily in bush fires. By eating native grasses (that livestock don’t eat) they regenerate the grasses, helping many other species to survive. Their long claws aerate the soil allowing soil ecosystems to thrive, whereas livestock compact the soil and cause deserts. The more kangaroos, the healthier the ecosystem!
#Other Reasons?" id="Other Reasons?">Other Reasons?
The D.O.D. plans to turn Majura into an internationally-significant night manoeuvres firing range. But they could never justify killing thousands of protected native animals to upgrade their night training.
While high-tech night responsive equipment may be sensitive to night ground movement from kangaroos, they could use ultrasonic devices such as Roo Guard (endorsed by the Qld. Grain Growers’ Association) to keep them away from those areas and create corridors to surrounding acres with water and proper fencing.
Why does the government protect special interests (i.e. developers) but make no effort to protect native Australian land or animals? Kangaroos are not the problem. Human activity and livestock grazing are.
The government may not care about kangaroos, but many people around the world do. As people learn about what is becoming known as Australia's Dirty Secret, they're not only outraged, but are choosing not to visit Australia and spend their tourism dollars.
#What can you do?" id="What can you do?">What can you do?
Please write to:-
The Hon Kevin Rudd MP
Prime Minister, Parliament House
CANBERRA, ACT, 2600
Martin Ferguson, Minister for Tourism
Parliament House, Suite M1 23
Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600