Page 4143 - Week 12 - Thursday, 1 December 2022
MS CLAY (Ginninderra) (2.57): I would like today to speak to Minister Vassarotti’s statement on the government response to my motion last November to protect our native wildlife by banning the sale and use of inappropriate garden netting in the ACT.
Specifically my motion called on the ACT government to do these things by 1 January; consult with local businesses and other stakeholders, including ACT Wildlife and to develop, introduce and if possible, pass legislation equivalent to that in Victoria which allows only the sale and use of animal friendly netting with the mesh size of 5 mm by 5 mm or less at a full stretch. Also to develop an educational program for the ACT community on the dangers and risks of inappropriately gauged netting on our wildlife, develop a program to help residents replace old netting with animal friendly netting and report back on these measures by the end of the year.
I was really honoured to move this particular motion. In working with stakeholders and community members to develop it, I heard many stories and saw many really awful photos of the injuries the wrong type of netting is causing to our wildlife. Animals get caught in this netting if the gauge of the netting is too wide. Animal-friendly netting is small enough that their limbs are not caught. It is 5 mm by 5 mm or less at a full stretch.
The largest number of victims of netting are our grey-headed flying foxes. Grey-headed flying foxes play an important role in our environment. They feed on flowering trees and fleshy fruit trees, they scatter seeds and they pollinate our bush. Because they like their fruit, people want to protect their household crops. This is perfectly understandable but there is a harmless way to do it and there is a really harmful way to do it. The harmful way leads to entanglement and terrible injuries that take a long, long, time to heal.
Our grey-headed flying foxes are a threatened species in the ACT, New South Wales and Australia-wide because of a loss of habitat by development and most recently coastal bushfires. Ongoing development and sprawl as well as climate change are making it hard for these creatures to survive. We need to take more care with our wildlife. We need to do this if we want to protect these animals so they are still here for our children and for our grandchildren, and we need to do it for their own sakes, because they are amazing creatures. Like all creatures, they deserve a place in this world. Climate change and urban sprawl are really big challenges. I will not speak about those in this motion, but we Greens are taking a lot of actions to address both of these. But there are some smaller problems that this motion addresses. Grey-headed flying foxes and other wildlife also suffer injuries and death as a result of conflict with people, electrocution and entanglement. I thank Minister Vassarotti for her hard work on this motion. She is a champion.
This program will improve the safety of netting in the ACT and it will have a direct positive impact on the species. It will help curb the loss of numbers and it will help deliver the community education and the ongoing conversation we need to take better care of our wildlife. I am pleased to add this initiative to the work the Greens have lobbied for and achieved in the animal welfare space here in the ACT. We have ended battery cage hens and sow stall farming. We have regulated puppy and kitten farms. We have banned greyhound racing. We have given people the right to have pets in rentals. We have legislated to have written definitions of cage, barn laid and free