A decision by Federal Minister for Environment Greg Hunt to use his ‘national interest’ power to harm a large colony of flying foxes highlights the desperate need for a voice for animals in the national Parliament according to Frankie Seymour. Ms Seymour is standing for the Animal Justice Party in the bellwether electorate of Eden-Monaro in the July federal election.
Ms Seymour has weighed into this issue ‘because it is the clearest possible example of why the Animal Justice Party must run candidates for seats in the federal Parliament.’
At a meeting of Batemans Bay residents on 16 May 2016, Minister Hunt announced that he had used his ‘national interest’ discretionary power to exempt the grey-headed flying-fox from all the protections of the Commonwealth government. The grey-headed flying-fox is listed as a vulnerable ‘species of national environmental significance’ under the Commonwealth Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
Mr Hunt’s decision allows Eurobodalla Council to remove a large local colony of flying-foxes by any means they choose (even fire). The decision has been announced in the absence of any information suggesting a change in the actual vulnerability status of the grey-headed flying fox.
‘As if that weren’t bad enough, the decision appears to have been made during the caretaker period when no decision of national significance should ever be made by a halfway responsible government,’ Ms Seymour notes.
The Eurobodalla Council had already financed and published a plan for dispersing the flying-foxes. The plan concludes that dispersing the colony would be both costly and risky to the public. The plan recommends that, if dispersal is to be undertaken, it should take place at a different time of year when overall numbers are lower, and there are fewer dependent young present. This approach would not only reduce the suffering of the animals but also the risks and costs to residents.
‘Hunt’s decision to remove the protection from these animals gives the Council permission to destroy the colony in any way they like. It is utterly disgusting,’ Ms Seymour said. ‘The Minister appears to have taken this outrageous action for no other reason than to buy the votes of a few residents of Batemans Bay who fail to appreciate that they live in a part of Australia where the flying foxes are a keystone native species.
‘Any loss of a significant population could be the last straw for a vulnerable species. If this large colony of flying foxes is destroyed, it could ultimately spell extinction for the whole species, and that will cause ripples right through the ecosystem, impacting on numerous other species of plant and animals – species the residents might well regard more highly than the flying foxes.’
‘The fact that a Commonwealth Minister can make a decision that puts so many animal lives in danger and threatens them with such extreme suffering shows in no uncertain terms how desperately we need a voice for animal justice in the federal Parliament.’
For interviews and further information contact Frankie Seymour on 0405 252 980.
Authorised by Anna Hall, Animal Justice Party NSW