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Victorian Labor government environmental policy nobbled? (National Dingo Preservation and Recovery Program)

The National Dingo Preservation and Recovery Program (NDPRP) today expressed dismay at the failure of the Victorian Labor government to put its own apex predator conservation policy into practice.

The Victorian Labor government recently committed to:
“recognise and protect the ecological function of existing dingo populations within Victorian ecosystems as part of biodiversity programs and management initiatives”
and to maintain:
“…, existing native apex predators in natural ecosystems and, investigate the potential functional role of reintroduced native apex predators in north-west Victoria”.

“Although the Victorian Labor government has recently refined and extended its policy commitment to protect dingo populations and their crucial ecological role, the government has failed at the very first significant test of that commitment,” NDPRP spokesperson Arthur Gorrie said.
“In September 2018, the Victorian government had the opportunity to correct the serious deficiencies of earlier dingo protection measures put in place after the listing of the dingo as a threatened species in 2010. The expiry of these measures provided the Minister for the Environment, the Hon Lily D’Ambrosio, with an opportunity to rectify these deficiencies.
“Many areas of Victoria where the dingo was unprotected at the time of the dingo threatened species listing, under the pretext of protecting farm stock from dingo predation, have in practice proven unnecessary, as in north western Victoria where there is very little sheep farming, with negligible stock losses. Yet, lethal dingo control in this part of the state was sanctioned with significant numbers of dingoes killed annually. Also, the very narrow genetic definition of the dingo used by the Victorian government means that many high conservation value dingo hybrids continued to be governed as vermin in Victoria by Agriculture authorities rather than as wildlife by biodiversity authorities.
“In July 2018, an extensive list of pre-eminent Australian environmental scientists jointly wrote to the Victorian government, urging it not to renew the dingo un-protection arrangements, along with the Humane Society International and other conservation organisations. The current arrangements were deemed to be unnecessary, ultimately ineffective and environmentally harmful. The government’s attention was also drawn to the need to afford protection to dingo hybrids. The experts especially drew attention to the need to cease lethal control of dingoes and ecologically functional hybrids in north western Victoria. Yet, this high level advice simply fell on deaf ears.
“At this point, there is a serious credibility gap between policy and conservation practice for the Victorian government in the area of apex predator conservation. The government now needs to explain why it ignored such high level advice and its own recent policy pronouncements on this key biodiversity issue..
“Why has the Victorian government failed to act, particularly in relation to north western Victoria, where the case for stock protection is so weak and where the opportunity for apex predator conservation and its biodiversity benefits so compelling?
“The NDPRP considers that the answer lies in part with a back room power sharing deal between Biodiversity and Agriculture bureaucracies, which hands a disproportionate degree of authority over dingo governance to Agriculture officials. The NDPRP considers that, rather than try to claw back control over this important area of biodiversity governance, Biodiversity bureaucracies appear more concerned with keeping face with the department of Agriculture. As a result, it appears that the Minister for the Environment remains inadequately briefed on the issue, including the need for Biodiversity to regain control over the governance of dingo hybrids.  The NDPRP understands that the Minister for the Environment, the Hon. Lily D’Ambrosio, is yet to receive a designated, comprehensive briefing on the apex predator issue and that Biodiversity officers have no intention to provide such a briefing in the foreseeable future.
“In light of recent progressive Victorian Labor government policy pronouncements on the apex predator issue, the NDPRP considers that any failure to adequately brief the Minister is unacceptable. In effect, it appears that the Minister for the Environment has been rendered incapable of performing her responsibilities on this environmental issue.
“The NDPRP urges the Victorian Minister for the Environment, the Hon. Lily D’Ambrosio, to seek the best external expert scientific advice on how to put her government’s progressive apex predator policy into practice. The recent renewal of the dingo un-protection arrangements, unchanged, for a further 5 years must be revisited by the Minister. To date, departmental advice appears to have been deficient. Important questions remain: was the Environment Minister even informed by her department of the collective appeal of Australia’s pre-eminent environmental scientists and peak environmental organisations for reform around the dingo un-protection issue?

National Dingo Preservation and Recovery Program Inc.

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