Hinchinbrook Shire ratepayers have potentially been exposed after Environment Minister, Steven Miles, refused to approve a requested extension to the Interim Conservation Order originally issued on 17 August 2016, regarding the Pelorus Island feral goat control program.
Hinchinbrook MP, Andrew Cripps, condemned Minister Miles for failing to treat the Hinchinbrook Shire Council with respect, as it attempted to comply with his direction to shut down a legitimate feral animal control program which the Palaszczuk Government had originally approved.
Mr Cripps said Minister Miles’ refusal to grant the Council an extension to comply with the order was petulant and childish and clearly demonstrated that he had absolutely no understanding of the practical issues involved in managing wildlife, or land, in North Queensland.
“The Council is incurring significant costs attempting to comply with this unjustified order from Minister Miles due to the challenging terrain on Pelorus Island and his refusal to provide an extension exposes Hinchinbrook Shire ratepayers to a $365,000 fine” said Mr Cripps.
“This is totally unprofessional behaviour by Minister Miles who to date, has failed to release any evidence that his decision to issue an Interim Conservation Order was based on any science, or evidence that the Beach Stone curlew actually exists on Pelorus Island” he said.
Mr Cripps said Minister Miles had obviously abandoned all reason and was pursuing a political and ideological campaign, with correspondence from his Department stating the alternative penalty if Council failed to comply with the order was two years imprisonment for the CEO.
“We now have an Interim Conservation Order which has expired – so the Council is in a legal limbo, we have a Minister playing political games and serious questions are being asked about the future of feral animal control programs across Queensland – it’s a fine mess”.
“I repeat my call for Premier Palaszczuk to put a leash and a muzzle on Minister Miles because he has obviously gone rabid and is out of control – he is threatening a competent and duly elected council that did the paper work and secured the permits from her government”.
Mr Cripps said he would continue to demand the Palaszczuk Government refund the Hinchinbrook Shire Council for the full costs associated with complying with the Interim Conservation Order and would continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding the order being issued.