Thursday, 18 October 2018
A couple of weeks ago, I visited a property out to the east of Burra. It is severely drought-affected. I inspected a paddock there with the young farmer. She had had it shut up for 18 months to preserve feed for their animals. It was completely bare—it was dust; it was drifting—simply because it had been completely eaten bare by kangaroos.
At the moment, pastoralists are reporting to me that, because of the drier conditions, there are thousands of kangaroos perishing in the environment at the moment. And it's a pretty horrid death.
It is estimated that there are 45 million kangaroos in Australia, far more than when European settlement occurred, simply because we're putting stock-watering points right across this nation and their numbers have grown on the back of that. So the question is: 'Why don't we harvest more kangaroos?' I suppose.
In South Australia, we have 1.6 million western grey kangaroos and 2.7 million red kangaroos. In 2017, we set harvesting targets of 766,000, but we harvested only just over 100,000 or only about 12 per cent of the total number. What is going on? The simple answer is: the field processors, or—let's call them what they are—the shooters, can't make a living. The international markets simply are not there.
You have to ask yourself why that is, because kangaroo meat is very good indeed. It has almost no saturated fat; in fact, it only has about a two per cent fat content anyhow. There is more iron in it than in beef. It has got about double the vitamin B12 and high levels of vitamin B. Kangaroo-skin leather is some of the finest leather you will ever buy or wear.
So, theoretically, the world should be beating a path to us for our kangaroo products and trying to get as much of them as they can. But they're not. Why is that? It's because the markets have been destroyed by environmentalists—those with an environmental bent who think they are saving the environment. In fact, the damage they're doing to the environment at the moment is enormous. The cruelty they're causing to kangaroos, which are in overpopulation, is very cruel indeed.
In the middle of this year, we saw the release of a movie called Kangaroo. It was called a documentary. I thought documentaries were supposed to go somewhere near the truth. It was called 'a love-hate story'. I'm not sure who funded it; it seems to be difficult to find out. But we know it was endorsed by then Greens senator Lee Rhiannon and by the New South Wales Animal Justice Party MP Mark Pearson. They travelled across Europe and North America—where the movie went off like a storm—telling people that the red, western and eastern grey were all threatened species. What a load of rubbish! It is an absolute lie. It's so much easier to run a scare campaign based on a lie than it is to get the truth out.
The consequences of this ongoing action over a long time has meant that California has banned kangaroo products, that Nike and Adidas are phasing out kangaroo leather and that our environment is overrun with kangaroos. Firstly, that is causing enormous problems for those of us who try to make a living off the land, pastoralists and farmers, as the kangaroos come in, in their hundreds and thousands. And the kangaroos are getting killed on the roads. People are getting killed on the roads because they're avoiding them; they're trying not to knock over these terrific animals. But there are just far too many of them. The bottom line is: they are actually doing huge damage to the environment.
For those people who want to back these campaigns and to bankroll the conservation groups that are trying to destroy this trade, I just ask them to think again—to give this due consideration and make sure they get the facts before they make their decisions. Everybody should make decisions based on good facts, and the 'facts' that that documentary and others used are just not facts. They are in fact mistruths.
I think we've probably reached our time, Mr Speaker, so thank you for your tolerance. I'd just advise people who are thinking of supporting these groups to have a very hard look at what they are actually saying and what they're planning to do.