House debates

Monday, 8 February 2016

Statements by Members

Hunter Electorate: Flying Foxes

1:48 pm

Photo of Joel FitzgibbonJoel Fitzgibbon (Hunter, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Agriculture) Share this | | Hansard source

Today I would like to speak about an issue which, for many, will in the first instance appear like an 11th order issue; but for many residents in rural and regional communities it is a very, very serious issue. I am talking about flying fox infestation. It has now gone beyond a private amenity issue. It has become in my electorate a very serious health issue, where elderly people with respiratory problems are now being affected or threatened at least to be affected by the presence of these animals in flight.

Mr Deputy Speaker Scott, we have been talking about this thing for 14 years. In the 43rd Parliament, the hung parliament, I think someone might have successfully moved a motion calling for some action on flying fox infestation. In Singleton in my electorate, we can no longer have Anzac Day in Burdekin Park because of the flying foxes. We are now stuck in the local civic centre—a nice venue but nothing like the beautiful Burdekin Park, where Anzac Day and other services have been historically held.

The problem is in Maitland, Cessnock, Singleton and many other communities in my electorate. I know there are environmental issues. I do not plead to be completely ignorant of them, but let us get out there and explain to the community how and why we are going to do more about this very serious problem in rural and regional Australia.