Page 579 - Week 02 - Thursday, 17 February 2005

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the cull, this advice has not been publicly released. Given this, can you assure us that any cull occurring in the future will be based on scientific advice and that this advice will be made available to the public prior to the commencement of the cull?

MR STANHOPE: I thank Dr Foskey for the question. I go to the heart of the issue, namely, scientific advice that Dr Foskey suggests has been prepared and has not been made available. I have to confess that I am not aware of the circumstances in relation to that particular claim that you make about the existence of information that has not been made available. I will pursue that particular point.

In relation to the other assurances that you received, they are, to some extent, hypothetical. I, at this stage, do not anticipate further kangaroo culls. It has not been suggested to me that there is any expectation in the foreseeable future that further or additional kangaroo culls will be required or necessary. Certainly, if such advice were forthcoming at some stage in the future the advice would be given due weight and consideration and a decision would be taken at that time. But, to that extent, the question is hypothetical. I have no expectation, I have not been briefed and it has not been suggested to me, that there will in the foreseeable future be any need for the ACT government to seek to cull kangaroos on land managed by it.

It is, of course, a fact that there are ongoing kangaroo culls throughout the whole of the ACT at the behest of our rural lessees and rural landholders within the ACT. Indeed, I understand that something of the order of four times the number of kangaroos culled at Googong last year are culled annually within the ACT for quite legitimate purposes in relation to the livelihood of those rural lessees and land management.

On the point of scientific advice and the basis on which decisions are made, I would always, of course, expect that a controversial and sensitive decision such as that taken to cull any animal will be taken on the basis of evidence and that the evidence will be soundly and scientifically based and ratifiable. Indeed, that would always be my expectation in relation to issues such as this.

Going to the other issue that you raised, the point does need to be made that, yes, two officers within Environment ACT expressed some concerns about the decision. They are senior officers. Those to whom they report, those within the organisation who make decisions, disagreed with them. A part of the decision-making process in any organisation is that a range of views is gathered. The views will not always be consistent or the same. In this particular instance, yes, some officers within Environment ACT expressed a point of view that was not a consensus view or a universally held point of view. Officers to whom they were responsible disagreed with their point of view. Advice was presented to me. That advice was that the cull was necessary; not just desirable, but necessary.

I am pleased that within the ACT public service we have public servants who feel that they have the capacity and the freedom to disagree. It would indeed be a sad situation if we had a public service in which those experts and those servants who serve us through the public service felt that they could not give frank and fearless advice and express their viewpoint. At the end of the day some advice is accepted; some advice is not accepted. Some viewpoints gain prevalence; other viewpoints do not. I am pleased to know that the processes within Environment ACT have that degree and level of vigour, but I do not in

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