I am writing to you, as a member of the ACT Legislative Assembly, in relation to the Eastern Grey Kangaroo: Draft Controlled Native Species Management Plan dated February 2017.  This draft plan is an update of the ACT government Kangaroo Management Plan (2010).  When it is finalised, following the recent public consultations period, the government proposes to adopt this document as a ‘controlled native animal management plan’ – a disallowable instrument.

The Animal Justice Party (AJP) was established to represent those who have no effective voice in our political system – the animals of Australia.  The AJP’s overriding objective is to pursue policies and practices that promote respect, kindness, compassion and understanding toward animals.

On this basis the AJP has submitted commentary questioning the acceptability of the KMP on both the animal welfare and scientific grounds.  For more detail of these matters, our submission can be found at: http://animaljusticeparty.org/ajp-submission-to-the-act-governments-draft-kangaroo-management-plan-kmp/

We are aware that at least six other welfare/environmental organisations which make up a total of 47 submissions that have raised similar concerns.

In particular we have raised the following concerns:

  • the KMP’s assertion that kangaroos have a deleterious impact on the environment;
  • the KMP’s assertion that the kangaroo ‘cull’ is humane;
  • the ACT Government’s continued prohibition of rehabilitating and releasing injured and orphaned kangaroos;
  • the KMP’s rejection of translocation of kangaroos to properties that are willing to take them as an alternative to slaughter;
  • the demotion (under law) of kangaroos from ‘protected native animal’ to ‘controlled native animal’; and
  • the proposed adoption of the new KMP (when it is finalised) as a ‘controlled native animal management plan’.

In relation to the scientific issues, we note that:

  • the KMP rests all its assertions that kangaroos have deleterious environmental impacts on only eight papers by only five authors, compared to the hundreds of studies showing that kangaroos are a keystone species critical to the survival of other native plant and animal species;
  • that none of these authors appears to be independent of ACT government influence and/or interest in the animal ‘management’ industry; and
  • that, in some cases, the findings of these papers are not accurately reported in the KMP.

In relation to animal welfare issues, we note that:

  • the KMP’s claims that the slaughter is humane are based on the ACT government’s adoption of the ACT’s Code of Practice for killing kangaroos;
  • the only legal status of a Code of Practice in the ACT is to exempt from prosecution acts of cruelty that would otherwise be offences under the Animal Welfare Act (ACT) 1992;
  • the Code is an unamended version of the nationally developed code which represents the lowest common denominator of conduct acceptable to the jurisdiction with the lowest standard of welfare in the country;
  • the Code permits the bludgeoning of pouch joeys in a manner similar to the killing of baby harp seals in Newfoundland, the orphaning of thousands of dependent young at foot, and the ongoing terror, distress and destruction of social integrity caused to surviving kangaroos by annual mass slaughters;
  • by the KMP’s own statements regarding kangaroo reproduction, the ACT government’s annual slaughter is conducted at a time of year when almost every female kangaroo has both a pouch young and an unweaned young at foot.

The AJP is calling on all members of the Legislative Assembly to declare a moratorium on the ACT Government’s annual kangaroo slaughter and to refuse to allow adoption of any ‘Controlled Native Species Management Plan’ for kangaroos until the draft KMP has been reviewed in its entirety by an independent team of experts (environmental scientists, wildlife carers and animal welfare advocates).  Such a team would necessarily have to be free of involvement of ACT Government officials, and of any persons or organisations with an interest in the ‘animal management’ industry.

The AJP would like to invite interested MLAs to join us on a visit to one of the urban reserves that has been most adversely affected by the government’s annual slaughter program.

Yours sincerely

Robyn Soxsmith
AJP ACT Branch

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