Belated new year’s resolution

24 February 2017

I started this blog a year ago mainly as a place to publish papers, especially on the ACT kangaroo issue, because there is so much information that needs to be out there that the public are just not allowed to see. I also intended to use it to share poems and fiction with other animal lovers in the hope my work would give pleasure, or at least show that, in grieving for the suffering of animals and delighting in their beauty, they are not alone.

Last year, I did quite a lot of the paper publishing, but not so much of the story and poem sharing. This year I hope to publish more in the way of poems and stories. It’s just a matter of convincing myself they are ready to share.

Recent additions to this website

Although I haven’t written any posts for a while, I have added several new papers to this website over the last few months, one of them written by Dr Chris Klootwijk, geologist and kangaroo protector.

The papers now accessible on this website are:

The last item on this list compiles the six main press releases I issued while standing as the Animal Justice Party candidate for Eden Monaro in the 2016 Federal Election, including one prepared jointly with Mark Pearson (AJP) MLC for NSW.

Animals and war

In ‘honour’ of ANZAC Day, I have just added another poem/song to my Poems and Songs page, Johnny’s War on the Animals. It’s about the many horrible fates faced by animals in human wars, and written to the tune of Johnny I Hardly Knew You (also the tune of When Johnny comes Marching Home).

I share this poem because, even though none of us like remembering these things, we have to. Also there’s always some relief in having things articulated so we can readily quote them at others less aware!

Animal Justice Party Forum

Forum on Kangaroos in the ACT

The Animal Justice Party will be holding a forum about the ACT’s annual kangaroo slaughter at 6.00 on 5 April. I will be one of the speakers, along with Dr Sheila Newman and Mr Marcus Fillinger.

Please join us if you can and hear about the truth about the ACT kangaroo killing. We would be grateful if you can pass this invitation on to others in the ACT or surrounding NSW who are interested in this subject.

Further details can be found at:

The policy basis to Kangaroo treatment in the ACT

Regional Friends of Wildlife Submission on Kangaroos

Late in 2013, after the ACAT had failed to halt the ACT government’s slaughter of healthy kangaroos on the reserves of the Canberra Nature Park, the newly formed Regional Friends of Wildlife (RFW) prepared a comprehensive submission to the ACT Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment along with substantial documentary evidence.

The Commissioner at that time, Robert Neil, made enquiries with the Department of Territory and Municipal Services (TAMS), and was unable to establish that the  government had undertaken any monitoring of the impacts of the annual slaughter since it began in 2009, any evaluation of whether it was achieving its alleged goals, or any adaptive management in the light of changing circumstances or understanding.

Unfortunately, Robert Neil has now moved on, and so nothing has come of the enormous effort put in by RFW to compile this body of evidence. Nevertheless, the submission represents both a record of the attempt, and a vast fund of research for anyone wishing to understand this issue.

As you can see, I have now figured out how to link my posts directly to the papers  and other documents mentioned in them. I will now go back through my earlier posts and see if I can do the same.

More Kangaroo Papers

Since my last post, the following papers have been published on my blog in the Papers and Essays Section:

 

White Jirra

In my first post on this blog, I said I would publish some short fictional stories here. Since my first few posts have been on the subject of kangaroos, I will start with this one, White Jirra.

White Jirra came about as a result of a number of inspirations.

One was a blizzardy night at Thredbo a few years ago. The banging and thumping of the wind and snow around the eaves of the lodge where we stayed reminded me of the old European folktale of Silverhoof, or Silvershod.

I think I was at infant school when I first heard the story of Silvershod, and I’m pretty sure it was the same teacher who also read us several stories which she told us were from the Dreamtime of the Indigenous Australians. One of them was the story about how the kangaroo, kindest of all the animals, got her pouch. The two stories came together in my mind that night at Thredbo.

The second inspiration was a photograph taken by my dear friend, David Walker. It was of his cat, the late and much lamented Daphne, gazing out the window of his house at a kangaroo. The kangaroo was a regular visitor to suburban Ainslie in the ACT.

I should also give credit to another good friend and fellow writer, Jane Virgo, who reminded me some years ago that diamonds are made of carbon.  I hope she does not mind too much that I have used that idea.  It was too good to leave lying around.

My new Facebook friend and fellow animal activist, Ro Godwin, was kind enough to read over this story for me and give me some valuable feedback.

Kangaroo Slaughter in the ACT: An annual event

 

Since 2009, every autumn and winter, a massive-scale wild animal slaughter has been taking place in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT).  This slaughter is conducted by the ACT government itself and takes place in the Canberra Nature Park across some 17 (or potentially more) separate urban reserves.  This killing is in addition to the routine killing of kangaroos by farmers and the Defence Department.

The ecological explanation the government asserts for reducing kangaroo numbers is considered shonky at best by independent kangaroo and ecology experts.  Three attempts to challenge kangaroo slaughters in the supposedly independent ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT) have failed, apparently for no other reason than that the ACAT Tribunal members preferred to believe the government spokesperson over the independent experts.  The general public seems to be equally willing to listen to the lie and accept that killing kangaroos is ‘necessary’.

When the grass is bushfire high, the government claims the kangaroos are overpopulating and must be ‘culled’ for their own good.  When the grass dies back in drought, the government claim the kangaroos are ‘starving’ and must be ‘euthanased’ for their own good.  Neither of these assertions have ever been true. Kangaroo breeding patterns have adjusted to Australian conditions of drought and plenty over about 5 million years.  Kangaroos have a very high infant mortality rate even in times of plenty because their predators are also breeding well at those times (and kangaroos have just as many predators now as they have ever hand, foxes having taken over from dingoes).  In hard times, kangaroos simply reduce or suspend breeding.

In any case, the government is not ‘culling’ these animals, it is simply slaughtering them.  ‘Culling’ is what the predators do, taking the weaker, the slower, those less well-protected by their mothers and their mob.  It is not a kind system but it works in favour of the species and its surviving individual members in the long run.  By contrast, the government’s slaughter is totally undiscriminating.

The government denies that the slaughter is cruel, claiming that it complies with an approved code of practice for ‘humane killing’.  The government does not mention that this code of practice permits and requires some of the cruellest aspects of the slaughter.

Killing kangaroos for alleged “management or ecological reasons” in the ACT allows the wholesale killing of females with young.  It requires that pouch joeys be bashed to death or decapitated.  It recommends that at-foot joeys be shot as soon as possible after their mothers.  But these joeys do not count towards the number of kangaroos the shooters are permitted to kill under their licence – so there is no incentive for shooters to waste time chasing them down and shooting them.  Without their mothers or their mob to protect them, orphaned joeys either starve to death or get run over by cars or taken by predators – no natural selection happening there at all.

The ACT government is gearing up to slaughter yet another 3000 kangaroos in our urban reserves again this autumn and winter.  This mass slaughter is permitted under just one licence. We have learned from documents received following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request that, as of 29 July 2015, there were no less than 83 current licences for killing kangaroos in the ACT.  The government refuses to inform the public exactly how many animals are being killed under this plethora of licences.  No wonder independent ecologists working in this region believe that this species is in steep and alarming decline.

Our kangaroo friends continue to endure this annual publicly funded pogrom: this mass killing of healthy animals; this ripping apart of family groups; the dozens of orphaned joeys lining the roadsides after the slaughter of their parents, waiting for their dead mothers to claim them (we see them every year); the pouch joeys bashed to death or decapitated; the adults and juveniles driven by panic to bolt in front of cars, drown themselves in dams, crucify themselves on barbed wire fences – all aftermaths we have witnessed first-hand.

We will try to stop it yet again, as we always do – but if the ACT government does not even care about human lives (see my previous post), how can we expect them to give a politician’s arse about animal lives?

Kangaroo slaughter endangers humans

Anyone who happened to notice that I started this blog just over two weeks ago could be forgiven for wondering at my total silence since then.  In fact, I was overtaken by an astonishing letter from the ACT Government’s Chief Minister, Andrew Barr.

In my next post, I will provide some brief background material on the ACT government’s annual kangaroo slaughter.  Once I get the hang of driving this blog, I will publish some of the background papers I have compiled over the years about this slaughter: the cruelty to the animals, the lack of science to support it, the strong science showing it is causing ecological damage.

In this post today, my main concern is with the ACT government’s apparent disregard for human life – and its own laws.

In September 2015, the Coalition of Animal Protectors (CAP) wrote to the Chief Minister of the ACT with extraordinary evidence that the government had endangered the lives of its own citizens during last year’s kangaroo slaughter.

This evidence has been compiled by CAP primarily from the government’s own documents.  It concerns the shooting of kangaroos on an area of unleased public land known as the Rose Cottage Horse Paddocks.

Dog walkers, horse riders, cyclists and many other members of the public, especially from the adjacent suburb of Macarthur, use this land by day and night.  The nearby Wanniassa Hills Nature Reserve was closed for the shooting as usual, but there was no signage and no public announcement to warn the public that shooting was also occurring on the horse paddocks.

The unexpected and unannounced shooting of kangaroos on the Rose Cottage Horse Paddocks was reported to the ACT police on 24 June 2015 by a member of the public who believed the shooting to be illegal.  Two police constables attended the scene but dismissed the report, accepting the claim of an ACT government ranger (who happened to be on site) that a licence for shooting there did exist.  The police did not require the ranger to produce this licence.

From documents received under the Freedom of Information Act some time later, it turned out that, in fact, no licence for shooting on the Rose Cottage Horse Paddocks had existed at that time.

Once the ACT government realised that the unlawful shooting had occurred, it should have immediately cancelled the shooters’ licence.  Or, if the shooters and/or the rangers, had made a genuine mistake about what land they were shooting on at the time, the government should have apologised to the public and taken steps to make sure the shooters and the rangers knew where they were allowed to shoot in the future.

Instead, the government responded – the very next day – by including the Rose Cottage Horse Paddocks in another licence that had been issued for shooting kangaroos on several other nearby parcels of unleased public land.  Interestingly none of these blocks of land, which are also routinely used by the public, had been sign-posted either, and no announcement had warned the public that shooting was occurring there.

Extending that other licence to include the Rose Cottage Horse Paddocks  made shooting there legal from then on.

Despite the clear danger to human life of allowing shooting on land so well-used by the public, the government still failed to put up any signs or make any public announcement to warn people away from the Rose Cottage Horse Paddocks or from the other nearby blocks of unleased public land.

Our submission in September drew all this to the Chief Minister’s attention.  We waited three months for a response. Not receiving one, we sent him a reminder.  Two days after sending our reminder, we received the letter that has keep me busy for the last two weeks.

The letter merely repeated the government’s tired old attempts to justify its kangaroo killing.  It did not acknowledge or address a single one of the legal or public safety issues we had raised in our submission.

So I have spent the last two weeks preparing our submission to the ACT Ombudsman and complaint to the Police Professional Standards Operation Monitoring Centre.  I will keep readers posted about what comes of these.  If anything.