Hinchinbrook MP, Andrew Cripps, has challenged two Palaszczuk Government Minister’s about their decision to shut down a feral goat eradication program on Pelorus Island, allegedly to protect the vulnerable Beach Stone Curlew from wild dogs released as part of the conservation project.
Mr Cripps said there had been considerable public interest in the Hinchinbrook Shire Council’s feral goat eradication plan and the circumstances in which Environment Minister Steven Miles, supported by the Agriculture Minister Leanne Donaldson, had issued the conservation order.
“The Agriculture Minister needs to explain her position when it has emerged that her Department strongly supports this project, even if she doesn’t – in fact, the Hinchinbrook Shire Council’s project plan actually lists the Queensland Agriculture Department as a project partner” said Mr Cripps.
“The Agriculture Department’s Animal Ethics Committee approved the use of wild dogs in the Pelorus Island program in May this year, so we have to ask if Minister Donaldson supports these independent, science and best-practice based decisions by her own public servants” he said.
“If she does, the Minister clearly supports the use of the 1080 device used in the project, but if she doesn’t, we must ask if she supports the existing, widespread use of 1080 in wild dog control programs across Queensland, including those programs funded by her own Department”
Mr Cripps said although the Environment Minister had issued the Interim Conservation Order on 17 August 2016, no evidence had been released to officially confirm Beach Stone Curlews were in fact present on Pelorus Island and he challenged the Minister to release any such evidence.
“Minister Miles also needs to confirm that if there are any other Palaszczuk Government approved biological control projects involving the release of feral predators into areas with listed threatened species currently underway in Queensland he has moved similarly to shut them down”.
“The Hinchinbrook Shire Council is currently using ratepayers’ money to comply with the Interim Conservation Order, but given the Palaszczuk Government originally approved this project, I call on the Premier to guarantee that the Council will be reimbursed the costs of compliance”.
Mr Cripps said the order, which provided 14 days for the Council to remove the wild dogs from Pelorus Island, had now expired and he asked the Premier to rule out a scenario where the Council would be fined, or the Council’s Chief Executive Officer imprisoned, for any failure to comply.