Time ticks away for Pelorus Island queries

Answers sought on goat removal flip-flop


Questions about the scientific and environmental rigour of a government decision to close down a goat removal program undertaken by the Hinchinbrook shire with state government approval have been asked in state parliament.

Questions about the scientific and environmental rigour of a government decision to close down a goat removal program undertaken by the Hinchinbrook shire with state government approval have been asked in state parliament.

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Answers to two questions on notice regarding the shutting down of a feral goat control program on Pelorus Island are due to be answered in state parliament next week.

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Answers to two questions on notice regarding the shutting down of a feral goat control program on Pelorus Island are due to be answered in state parliament next week.

In mid-October Hinchinbrook MP Andrew Cripps placed two Questions on Notice, seeking information from Environment Minister, Steven Miles and Agriculture Minister, Leanne Donaldson.

He asked Minister Miles to supply all the advice provided to him by his department before he issued the interim conservation order to remove two wild dogs placed in the island for feral goat control, and Minister Donaldson was asked to advise whether she supported the decision of the Animal Ethics Committee within her department to approve the goat removal project on Pelorus Island.

“I suspect that Minister Miles made a political decision to shut down a project not supported by any real evidence, which is why I’ve asked to see the advice he received,” Mr Cripps said. “As for Minister Donaldson, her decision to hang the officers in her department out to dry after they had originally approved the use of wild dogs to reduce feral goat numbers is a disgrace”.

A spokesman for Dr Miles said his government’s understanding was that council was always planning to make arrangements to remove the dingoes from the island, citing the implantation of 1080 pills into the animals.

“More importantly, Minister Miles, the mayor, deputy mayor and chief executive of Hinchinbrook Shire Council took the opportunity to meet for a friendly discussion in Townsville on October 4, and it was agreed they would work cooperatively on future opportunities on how to manage Pelorus Island effectively.

“Dr Miles will also soon be writing to the council to equip them with a formal statement of his reasons for the ICO”.

Ms Donaldson said that no matter how many times Mr Cripps asked the question, her answer remained the same.

“The Animal Ethics Committee acts independently of the Minister for Agriculture’s office and I have no authority to influence or amend its decisions.

“The committee did not advise me of its decision, nor was it required to do so.

“When I became aware of the council’s project via media coverage I enquired if I could intervene on animal welfare grounds, but I was advised I had no power to do so.

“I accepted that position but I asked the Animal Welfare Advisory Board to consider, for future reference, if such a program was in line with current community expectations on animal cruelty.

“There was no outside interference in the independent decision making of the committee.

“My colleague, the Environment Minister took action to stop the program through an Interim Conservation Order under the Nature Conservation Act 1992, in line with his duty to protect vulnerable and threatened species.

“Minister Miles used his powers to protect the beach stone curlew, a bird listed as vulnerable in Queensland.”

Its presence on Pelorus Island hasn’t been confirmed by the Environment Department.

Mr Cripps also expressed concern at the cost involved in trying to comply with the order and shoot the two dogs released on the island.

“The ridiculous thing is the Hinchinbrook Shire Council has spent ratepayers’ money shutting down a pest control program which the Palaszczuk government approved in the first place.”

Mr Cripps said he would continue to press for the government to refund the Hinchinbrook Shire Council for the costs of compliance with the order.  

Hinchinbrook mayor Raymon Jayo has been contacted for comment.

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