Hinchinbrook MP, Andrew Cripps, has tabled a petition in the Queensland Parliament supported by 6,519 people, who wished to express their opposition to the decision of the Palaszczuk Government to close the Garners Beach Cassowary Rehabilitation Centre.
Mr Cripps said since the Palaszczuk Government announced its decision to close the Centre on 28 July 2015, there had been a lot of manoeuvring and an embarrassing backflip from the Environment Minister, Steven Miles, about the future of the Mission Beach facility.
“The supporters of this petition believed that the Palaszczuk Government’s decision would place the already vulnerable cassowary at further risk and would shift pressure onto local veterinarians and volunteer wildlife carers” said Mr Cripps.
“Certainly, these concerns extended to advice that suitably qualified, experienced and resourced rangers would no longer be available after business hours to support local veterinarians to respond to sick or injured cassowaries or orphaned chicks” he said.
“This facility has made an important contribution to the conservation of the Cassowary, including the facilitation of research on birds’ resident at the centre and the role it played managing the health of local cassowaries in the Mission Beach area in the wake of Cyclone Yasi”.
Mr Cripps said the severity of the back-lash from the community had seen a rushed, band aid response and a retreat from the Palaszczuk Government, with an announcement of $50,000 of interim funding to keep the Garners Beach facility open for three months.
“There was a sigh of relief that the centre would not close immediately, but the community’s questions about the resourcing of rangers had still not been answered and therefore it was resolved that the petition needed to continue”.
“One of those concerns was that no adult Cassowaries would be accepted into the Garners Beach Centre and the failure of the Palaszczuk Government’s was underlined recently when a young Cassowary was euthanased because the facility would not accept adult birds”.’
“Just last week, the Palaszczuk Government moved from retreat to backflip, allowing an injured Cassowary to be admitted to the facility and moving to undertake more training for Rangers to be available to help respond to call-outs for sick or injured birds”.
Mr Cripps said ultimately, the facility was owned by the Queensland Government and if the non-government partnership model is unsuccessful, the buck stopped with the Queensland Government to ensure the facility continues its important work to protect the iconic Cassowary