Thursday, 25 February 2021
The 3rd of March this year marks World Wildlife Day and it is also the three-year anniversary of a great event, a crushing event, that I attended with Donalea Patman OAM, who is the founder of For The Love Of Wildlife. This event was all about crushing rhino horn and elephant ivory to, in fact, actually take the value out of this product. The most awful way of killing these most beautiful creatures is by putting cyanide in their drinking water, and I've seen horrendous videos of rhinos sleeping at night and having their ankles slashed. I called on the government at the time to ban these imports, and I congratulate and thank the Hon. Sussan Ley for making the decision to ban any imports into Australia of rhino horn and elephant ivory. This was also a recommendation of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement, of which I was a member.
I also thank Donalea for the work we did together to have a ban imposed on the importation of lion parts and trophies into Australia. We had young Australians travelling to places like South Africa, believing they were going to be nurturing a young lion cub to adulthood and then releasing them to the wild, when in fact they were released into a so-called 'conservation park' which was in actual fact a hunting park where the animals were just killed. Greg Hunt, the environment minister at the time, put that ban in place—and I again thank him so much for that.
So, at the federal level, we have done the work, under the Liberal government, to ban the importation of elephant ivory, rhino horn and also African lion parts and trophies. But, when it comes to rhino horn and elephant ivory, we really need the states to do their bit and stop the sale of this product at the domestic level. This was put forward by Sussan Ley at the COAG meeting of ministers, and I and other members of parliament pushed for this strongly. In my role as Assistant Minister for Customs, Community Safety and Multicultural Affairs, I looked at the figures—we've made it a priority to detect wildlife coming into the country and also leaving Australia—and this year there has still been 11 seizures of elephant ivory and 28 specimens. The good news for lions is that nothing has been seized for the last two years. With rhino horn, we're still seeing medicines coming in. We need the states to act, and act now.