The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK
[6.14 p.m.]: Earlier this year I spoke about the THINKK research group based at the University of Technology, Sydney, and the work it had done on kangaroos. Tonight I will refer to what it claims to have found. First, it claimed that there was little scientific or environmental evidence to support the killing of large numbers of kangaroos every year. It asserted there was a "growing movement to promote the consumption of kangaroo meat over beef and lamb" as it is seen as a more environmentally sustainable option because kangaroos emit less greenhouse gas.
Furthermore, the research group claimed that "kangaroos rarely competed for food with livestock". On that point, if any of its researchers had ever been over the mountains to the west and central west of the State they would know that claim is pure nonsense. Academics have to be careful when putting papers forward—because their papers might be peer reviewed. I have had the benefit of reading a paper prepared by, among others, Mike Archer, Professor of Biological Science at the University of New South Wales. The abstract of the paper says it all:
A recent publication from the Think Tank for Kangaroos, at the University of Technology Sydney, claims to provide a scientific evaluation of the idea that choosing to eat kangaroo is an environmentally beneficial choice, and then finds in the negative.
It purports to be a reasoned and objective analysis of the science surrounding kangaroo harvesting.
We [Professor Archer and others] have examined the document with reference to available literature, and can show that it is not well-reasoned, objective, accurate nor scientific.
Unfortunately it contains multiple errors of fact, represents the research of others inaccurately, and makes many invalid and misleading comparisons.
Our analysis suggests that rather than an objective scientific inquiry, the document is an instrument designed to promote a particular point of view, namely, the deep seated opposition to the commercial harvesting of kangaroos held by Voiceless and the Sherman Foundation, who have funded the production of the report.
When I first raised this issue the voiceless mob rushed to the press to decry my comments. They did it at a $1,000-per-head cheese and bikkies function in Newcastle. Tonight I will put the argument set out in the peer review publication by Dr Rosie Cooney, Professor Mike Archer and others. These scientists were disturbed to see serious misrepresentations in the THINKK paper. Their peer review stated:
The Thinkk authors repeatedly imply that the sustainability of commercially harvested kangaroos is in question—that is, that the commercial harvest may pose some sort of threat of extinction.
They present no population data to support this point, and with good reason.
The Government published data indicate that harvested kangaroo populations within the commercial zones remain robust and abundant, comprising around 25 million animals in 2010.
Indeed harvested kangaroos remain, after over four decades of commercial harvest, among the most abundant large wild vertebrates on earth.
The entire Thinkk paper rests on an unsubstantiated basic premise that "Australian consumers believe eating kangaroo is encouraging destocking in the rangelands".
From this they argue that sheep are not in fact currently being replaced by kangaroos, and therefore, consumers are mistaken in their beliefs that kangaroo is a good environmental choice.
The Hon. Dr Peter Phelps:
However, in reality, kangaroo meat is currently an excellent environmental choice compared to other red meat alternatives, because in producing that meat, kangaroos do far less damage to our rangelands than sheep and cattle, and have less methane producing digestive processes.
And it is delicious.
The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK:
And it is delicious. I may say more on this topic on another day but I believe I have made my point. Institutions that accept money from interest groups should not expect unbiased research. It is a sorry situation into which the University of Technology, Sydney, has fallen.