Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 12 Hansard (Tuesday, 23 November 2021) . . Page.. 3507 ..
the fruit but it does no harm to them. To do this, you need to pull the netting tightly over the trees and fix it to the trunk to stop animals coming in underneath. Sometimes netting is used to protect particular branches full of fruit, rather than the entire tree.
But it is also really important to use the right kind of netting. Animal-friendly netting has a very small mesh size, small enough so that you cannot stick your pinkie finger through it. This means creatures cannot get in through the holes. It is also white in colour so that nocturnal animals can see it and it is designed with a cross-weave. All of these elements make it animal friendly.
The wrong way to use netting has devastating consequences. Netting with a wide aperture allows the animals to get trapped and tangled in the holes. And they also get trapped by netting that is hung too loosely or netting that is allowed to lie loose on the ground. It is not just flying foxes; it is reptiles, snakes, birds. A lot of creatures get hurt this way. When animals are caught in netting, our wildlife rescuers have to climb the trees to cut them out and netting often continues to cut deeply into the entangled, struggling animals.
The healing process can be incredibly slow. It is also really expensive. The cost of medication is high, and flying foxes consume half a kilo of fruit a day when they are recovering. Sometimes they are trapped in netting overnight and they are not discovered for hours or days, and that can result in a long and painful experience, and death sometimes.
It is not just flying foxes. In 2020, 1,483 birds came into the care of ACT Wildlife, many of them from fruit tree netting injuries. We are harming lots and lots of wildlife in our netting in our backyards and it is a really easy problem to fix. I do not have an easy fix for habitat loss or climate change, but I do for this one.
Earlier this year Victoria amended their Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Regulations 2019 to introduce a requirement that netting used to protect household fruit trees, vegetable gardens and other fruiting plants must have a mesh size of five millimetres by five millimetres or less at full stretch. I am calling on the ACT government to make these same amendments to our legislation here. This will mean that only animal-friendly netting is available to be bought and sold in the ACT.
It is not a huge ask. A lot of shops have already made this simple switch. I know Bunnings now only sells animal-friendly netting in the ACT, and our motion would ensure that that is consistent across the ACT. But we do not just need legislation to prevent the sale of harmful netting. We also need to help our households switch to the right netting. So my motion also calls for an education program to be developed to help Canberrans understand the consequences of dangerous netting. Lastly, we want to help our residents who have got the old netting in place to replace it with new, animal-friendly versions. I am asking for a program to be developed to do all of this and be implemented by 1 January 2023.
In our last election platform the Greens had a vision. We wanted to ensure that Canberra was a sanctuary for diverse and threatened wildlife. We still want that, and this motion is crucial to achieving it. By protecting our birds, our flying foxes, our