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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 8 Hansard (23 August) . . Page.. 2545..


MR HARGREAVES (continuing):

kangaroos are expected to provide long-term knowledge to use in ACT kangaroo management over the next 10 to 20 years.

MS PORTER: I ask a supplementary question. Kangaroos have a unique reproductive cycle that enables them to have up to three young at one time. Minister, can you explain that system and indicate how the drugs will help? Is there scientific agreement in this new process?

MR HARGREAVES: The concept of kangaroos having up to three young at one time is the Peter Costello rule of reproduction: one joey for mum, one joey for dad and one joey for the country. Ms Porter is right. Female kangaroos can have up to three young at different stages of their reproductive cycle. The first stage is for an embryo or bunch of cells in the womb in what is virtually a state of animation waiting for the right conditions to grow to a fully developed embryo.

The second stage is a joey in the pouch suckling on a teat and the third stage is a joey out of the pouch suckling, when necessary, on a different teat. The interesting thing is that the mother can deliver milk of different compositions to the different teats so that each joey gets the nutrition appropriate to its stage of development. The contraceptive being delivered interrupts this cycle by preventing the female kangaroos from becoming pregnant. This interruption is temporary and the normal cycle will resume when the effects of the drug wear off. This is important because we do not wish to get rid of the kangaroos; we wish only to manage their numbers humanely.

Referring to scientific agreements, I understand that Rosslyn Beeby from the Canberra Times is indulging in scientists at 50 paces. She got one scientist to say that this is not a good idea. The scientist said that this could be an ecological disaster. I send the following message to that scientist: This is not sterilisation; this is contraception. Professor Des Cooper of the University of New South Wales is very contradictory, which debunks any credibility or environmental credentials Rosslyn Beeby might have if she refers to what he has to say.

In May this year, when referring to the koala and kangaroo contraception program, Professor Cooper said, "It's primary objective is to find humane ways of managing koala and kangaroo populations by using contraceptives, preferably by delivering them remotely."That does not sound like an ecological disaster; it sounds like an endorsement. In 2001 Professor Cooper said, "Animals that are not sterilised by the vaccine will continue to breed and render the vaccine useless."If I had to choose between Dr Cooper and the Marsupial Cooperative Research Centre I would back the Marsupial Cooperative Research Centre because it is still developing the vaccine.

Another issue intrigues me. I understand Professor Cooper wants to implant the pill but he would have to catch the animal first before he could do so. So Professor Cooper wants to use Mr Stefaniak's rifle, drop a kangaroo, race over to it, pop in a pill or implant it, and the kangaroo would bound off later when it woke up. I would rather not put an animal through any kind of anaesthetic if it can be given a pill in its feed. That is a better way to go about it. I understand that this is a bit of a "scientists at 50 paces"job.

The University of New South Wales is at odds with the University of Newcastle, which is hard luck. Professor Cooper possibly—and I use the word "possibly"as I do not yet


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