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Oz MP Kelvin Thomson for all creatures great and small - more MPs like this are needed


"(...)I consider it a grotesque piece of arrogance on our part as a human race that we think we have the right to destroy other species—plants, birds and animals—on our way to affluence. While some species have prospered as a result of human activity, the vast majority have not, and many species are now threatened with extinction.

In December 2005, the USA based National Academy of Sciences reported that human activities are leading to a wave of extinctions that is over a hundred times greater than natural rates. According to the World Conservation Union, almost 800 species have become extinct since the year 1500, when more accurate records began. The Alliance for Zero Extinction has identified a further 800 species on the brink of oblivion. These species are confined to around 600 sites around the world. Only one-third of them enjoy legal protection, and most are surrounded by human population densities approximately three times the global average.

Human activity has increased extinction by between 1,000 and 10,000 times the normal level in rainforests as a result of reduction in area alone. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, the earth is down to its last five per cent of tropical forest cover and is losing that at a rate of over 200,000 square kilometres a year, with the rate of loss increasing. The world has entered the 21st century with little more than 10 per cent of its original forest cover intact and, according to the anthropologists Richard Leakey and Roger Lewis, all the forest cover will be largely gone by the year 2050.

The country which has the world’s worst record for species extinction turns out to be Australia: 27 mammal species, 23 bird species and four frog species have become extinct over the past 200 years. Our wildlife is some of the most beautiful and unusual in the world.

We are known around the world for our unique wildlife but, unfortunately, we have a very poor track record of protecting it. Everyone knows about the loss of the Tasmanian tiger, a stunning animal which is now sadly extinct, but people are less well aware of just how bad our overall track record is. We have the worst rate of mammal extinction in the world. Since European colonisation, about 10 per cent of Australia’s mammals have become extinct. In fact, almost half the mammals that have become extinct globally in the past 200 yearshave been Australian.

The World Wildlife Fund says—and they are right— that we urgently need to build a safety net of terrestrial and marine protected areas to help our unique and threatened wildlife weather the upheavals of climate change. We need to reduce the impact of invasive species like foxes and cats on our native species, we need to assist Indigenous Australians to manage fire on their country and prevent late hot dry-season fires wiping out species and their habitats and, above all, everyone needs to commit to reducing carbon emissions to prevent a wave of mass species extinctions in Australia. I believe there is an opportunity to strengthen the protection for threatened species and their habitats in the review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, which the Labor government has promised.

The last government failed to keep the EPBC Act list of threatened ecological communities up to date because it was pandering to National Party pressure. This has meant that large tracts of threatened habitat across the country are not receiving the protection that is warranted from the federal government under the legislation. We need to recognise the importance of biodiversity protection; it is a crucial part of this country’s climate change mitigation efforts. We need a major national biodiversity action plan and a national biodiversity initiative. I commend for the consideration of the government, the parliament and the people of Australia such an initiative, which has been put forward by the Humane Society International. I commend the Humane Society International and WWF for their essential work. I urge all Australians to support their efforts at work. I urge us to ensure that we will not allow other species to become extinct on our watch during our lifetimes."

From a speech on "Threatened and Extinct Species" to the House of Representatives
by Kelvin Thomson MP (ALP), Federal Member for Wills, Thursday 14th February 2008

http://www.aph.gov.au/hansard/reps/dailys/dr140208.pdf [Accessed House of Representatives Hansards]

Kelvin Thomson is a member of the Federal Labor Party and has been the member for Wills since 1996.
His home page is: http://www.alp.org.au/people/thomson_kelvin.php

Wills was previously held by:
Cleary, P.R. (An Independent) 1993-1996
Hawke, R.J.L. (Ex Prime Minister, ALP)1980-1992
Bryant, G.M. (ALP) 1955-1980
Electorate Profile of Wills:
State: Victoria
Area and Location Description: Wills covers an area of approximately 57 sq km from Fawkner and Glenroy in the north to Brunswick in the south and also includes Essendon Airport. The main suburbs include Glenroy, Gowanbrae, Hadfield, Oak Park, Pascoe Vale, Strathmore and parts of Brunswick, Coburg and Fawkner.

Demographic Rating: Inner Metropolitan

Members:

* THOMSON, K (ALP) 1996-
* CLEARY, P R (IND) 1993-1996
* HAWKE, R J L (ALP) 1980-1992
* BRYANT, G M (ALP) 1955-1980
* BRYSON, W G (ALP) 1949-1955

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Comments

Uh-oh. I did wonder about publishing Kelvin Thomson's speech. It did seem too good to be true. I immediately received two comments about how the Minister has seemingly failed to live up to his words here, which you may read below.

I would like to hear from anyone who is able to show that Mr Thomson actually puts his money where his mouth is with regard to standing up for Australian species.

"I was flabberghasted to read Kelvin Thompson statement that he cares about nature. Pat O'Brien and I met with his advisor and we tried for months to get an appointment to see him about kangaroos and he did not give us the time of day and failed to answer any correspondencce about the plight of kangaroos."

Maryland Wilson

(Maryland Wilson is the President of the Australian Wildlife Protection Council (AWPC). Pat O'Brien, is the President of Wildlife Protection Association of Australia and Co-ordinator of the National Kangaroo Protection Coalition)

On July 29th, 2008 Brigitte Charron wrote

Kelvin Thomson MP
Labor Shadow Minister for Environment
and Heritage Matters
3 Munro Street, Coburg 3058

Sunday, 6 October 2002

Dear Mr Kelvin Thomson MP,

I recently received your Electorate Report and I am pleased to know that you are campaigning to stop land clearing as part of your environmental portfolio. I want to congratulate you and let you know that you have my full support.

I would like to bring to your attention an issue that concerns me greatly. As the Shadow Minister for Environment in the Labor Party, you may be aware that the kangaroo industry in Australia kills kangaroos at the rate of 6 million a year with the full approval of our Federal Department of Primary Industry. The kangaroo industry promotes the wholesale slaughter of kangaroos as a sustainable harvest¹. How can it be sustainable when the strong males are the first casualties of a commercial slaughter?. In a cynical kilo for dollars exercise which leaves many writhing in agony from misfired bullet wounds, the alpha males offer the best yield to the shooters. Killing the biggest and best out of a mob is a threat to the future survival of the species because even though there is an increase in populations, the animals are not healthy, not fit, and the populations are unsustainable. The kangaroo and the Federal Government have not taken into consideration the depletion of the gene pool.

The kangaroo has become a resource after decades of ignorant perception as pests. Proper public education has not been undertaken; Australians should have been deprogrammed from that sorry state of thinking Most Australians think that kangaroo numbers are far higher than they actually are and it is in the interest of Governments and the kangaroo industry to uphold this myth. Australia has approximately 230 million sheep and 37 million cattle, which is the plague? What animals cause the most destruction?

Another disturbing fact to consider is the cruelty inflicted on kangaroos by the kangaroo industry. The cruelty comes in two forms. Shooting is not an exact science because of the many variables and the result does cause horrific non-fatal injuries. To quantify the wounding rate is near impossible. It is not acceptable to a civilisation like Australia, who prides itself on how it regards other creatures and which goes so far as to give a mandate to the Royal Society for the Protection of Animals to stop such excesses. Apart from the wounding rate, the other form of cruelty is so extreme that the publication, The Commercial Harvest of Kangaroos in Australia, steers well away from anything but mere mention. Females of breeding age killed usually have a joey at foot and a joey in the pouch. When the mother is killed, this joey at foot is left to fend for itself. Panic, fear, starvation or being preyed upon by the hundreds of foxes that keep tabs on kangaroo shooting will end its life in a state of terror. Also, too small to be lucrative, more than a million joeys are removed from their mother¹s pouch and tossed aside to die from predation or beaten to death by the shooters. This is not acceptable to reasonable thinking people The fate of the joeys is the cruelest of all.

The commercial exploitation of any wildlife leads inevitably to their near extinction. The kangaroo is no exception. The kangaroo industry is responsible for the worst massacre of wild animals in history. We have already lost six kangaroo and wallaby species from the genetic pool and there a re a number of other species on the endangered list and nearing extinction. If we do not stop the exploitation of kangaroos, our national icon will be no more than a museum exhibits for future generations.

We are harvesting our future. We are doing it with such momentum and conviction that we have swept aside the knowledge and wisdom that exists to show us how it might be done, for us all. For the animals. For the plants. For ourselves to find the harmony in an all-sustaining planet.

The commercial harvesting of kangaroos must stop, with non-comsumptive use of wildlife for tourism introduced.

I thank you for taking the time to read my letter and look forward to hearing from you in regards to your opinion on this matter. I hope you will support the protection of our wildlife, not its exploitation.

Sincerely

Brigitte Charron