KANGAROO MEAT INDUSTRY
The Hon. ROBERT BROWN
[3.10 p.m.]: I alert the House to yet another attempt by animal liberationists to block the expansion of our kangaroo meat industry, which is one of the most sustainable industries anywhere in Australia—and worth more than $200 million a year in exports. We have all heard of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Animal Liberation and all the other fellow travellers before, but now those smarties have decided to come at the same issue again, but from a slightly different angle. This time we have what is described as a "recently formed indigenous organisation" called the Australian Alliance for Native Animal Survival apparently looking at mounting Federal court action to stop the proposed roo exports. Moves are underway to greatly increase the export of kangaroo meat to China and Russia—and the Shooters and Fishers Party backs that sustainable wild harvest industry to the hilt. We do not want to see those moves banned on spurious grounds. Aborigines have harvested kangaroos in Australia for thousands of years. More recently the harvesting of kangaroos has become a viable, sustainable domestic and export industry.
The Hon. Robert Borsak:
They're good to eat too.
The Hon. ROBERT BROWN:
They are good to eat. It is a fact that Australia has many, if not more, kangaroos now than it has had at any other time in its history. Animal Liberation objects to the commercial harvesting of kangaroos on the grounds of hygiene, inhumanity and sustainability. That borders on the farcical. I will inform the House about how the industry works. All kangaroo harvesters must be licensed by the Government and pass a government-approved course that instructs them in aspects such as the laws controlling kangaroo harvesting, meat hygiene and animal welfare. In addition, their harvest equipment must be approved by a government inspector to ensure it is of the right standards. Even the RSPCA has described kangaroo harvesting as "one of the most humane methods of animal slaughter possible".
After harvesting, kangaroos are taken to approved processing plants where they are skinned and boned out for a range of products under the supervision of government-approved inspectors, who ensure meat hygiene standards and disease control is the same, if not better, than that for domestic animals. Kangaroos are remarkably healthy animals. They carry very few of the diseases commonly carried by domestic animals. Indeed, the kangaroo population represents a sustainable resource. While there will always be debate about the morality of utilising wildlife as a resource, the debate rarely examines the moral imperative for nations to utilise their resources to the best effect in supplying the world with the food and commodities it needs.
For decades Australia has been developing a significant industry that utilises the kangaroo as a resource. Initially it was focused largely on pest control for pastoral industries, but in recent years we have come to realise that the industry has significant economic, environmental and health benefits. The industry currently generates more than $200 million a year in income and employs more than 4,000 people directly. The bulk of those jobs are in remote rural communities, many of which would not exist without the industry. Animal Liberation, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and similar activist groups probably believe that what they are doing is right as they try to ban the kangaroo trade. I think we all know they are wrong.