Parliamentary speeches and updates for Georgie Purcell MP - Sitting Week 16th-19th May. Speeches this week include a Question Without Notice on SGARS, a Constituency Question on habitat in Bendigo destroyed for kangaroos for Commonwealth Games development, a Constituency Question on an issue investigated by DEECA at a Bendigo farm, a Member Statement on Veterinary care and an Adjournment Matter on Koala Management.
16th May 2023 - Question Without Notice - Second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARS)
Substantive question, GEORGIE PURCELL — To ask the Minister for Environment:
My question is for the Minister for Environment. Second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides, also known as SGARs, are widely used in Victoria to target rodents. They contain a blood-thinning chemical that can remain active for months, and animals that consume it suffer an excruciating death. Recently there has been an increase in small native animals consuming poisoned rodents, resulting in secondary poisoning. Jennifer, a baby ringtail possum I met in care at Waratah wildlife sanctuary last week, is one such victim. She became infected after consuming her now-deceased mother’s milk. SGARs have been banned in many countries across the world but in Victoria are available for anyone to purchase in supermarkets and hardware stores. It has been argued these dangerous products should not be available for sale to the public or in use at all. Can the minister advise how many native animals are killed by SGARs each year in Victoria?
Substantive question - verbal response
I thank Ms Purcell for her question and her advocacy in relation to these important matters. Just by way of background, I should indicate that in Victoria the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action regulates the use of agricultural and veterinary chemicals, so those particular aspects in relation to your question are probably better directed to the Minister for Agriculture, but I am happy to answer your question in relation to the impacts on wildlife. We are absolutely committed to making sure that we do whatever we can to improve the outcomes for and the protection of our precious threatened species. That is why we recently listed poisoning of native wildlife via this particular chemical as a potentially threatening process under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act, and that was following a recommendation that was made to me and the Minister for Agriculture from the scientific advisory committee, which is the normal process undertaken. The listing supports consideration of tighter regulations and management actions to reduce any kind of undesired impact of this particular pesticide on native wildlife.
Thank you, Minister, for your response. My supplementary is in relation to regulation. Products that are considered dangerous are often sold behind the counter instead of off the shelf so that consumers can understand the serious impact that they can have. Wildlife advocates believe that moving second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides to behind the counter would help Victorians understand the impact they can have on wildlife and perhaps opt for alternatives. Has the minister considered implementing this change?
Supplementary question - verbal response
I thank Ms Purcell for her supplementary question. Following that listing that I just described the process behind, the next step in the process is for my department to prepare an action statement, which would actually go to describing the potentially threatening process and outlining what actions need to be taken to mitigate it. That process has only just commenced recently. I am advised that there will be the development of this action statement and it will take approximately six months, but I am happy to keep you updated on the progress of that process.
16th May 2023 - Constituency Question - Commonwealth Games kangaroos
Georgie PURCELL (Northern Victoria): My constituency question is for the Minister for Environment. A mob of 40 kangaroos live on the Flora Hill site in Bendigo where the athletes village for the 2026 Commonwealth Games is set to be built. With work set to commence by the end of this year, locals are desperately seeking answers on how native animals will be considered before their habitat is demolished. Representatives from Development Victoria claim they will not kill the kangaroos, but wildlife rescuers are not convinced of this. Instead, they fear they will be herded across major roads into unsuitable bushland. Mismanaged relocations cause severe injury and stress in roos, which lead to accidental death or secondary lethal control. From development to logging, native animals and the dedicated volunteers who protect them are consistently overlooked. When will the minister release a full development plan in consultation with wildlife rescuers and carers?
17th May 2023 - Member Statement - Veterinary care
Georgie PURCELL (Northern Victoria): To many of us, our companion animals are family. They provide us with friendship, comfort, emotional support and a sense of purpose. It is often those who will benefit the most from a relationship with a companion animal that have the most barriers to getting one: the elderly, people living alone, disability pensioners, victim-survivors of family violence and low-income earners. Part of this is because across Victoria veterinary care is becoming more and more physically and financially inaccessible. The last Parliament unanimously passed a motion from the Animal Justice Party calling for a subsidised veterinary care system in Victoria much like our human healthcare system, which we called Veticare. As we continue to advocate for and progress towards this vital scheme being introduced, I have been proud in recent weeks to support two organisations that have recognised this gap and are providing access to veterinary care for some of our most vulnerable Victorians. It was rather moving to make a visit to the Regional Community Vet Clinic’s free cat and kitten mass desexing day in Castlemaine and also to see a dog called Sooay and her mum Dana, who is on a disability support pension, have their urgent vet bill covered recently by Pet Medical Crisis. I hope the government can recognise the importance of both organisations’ work and support them too.
17th May 2023 - Notice - Greyhounds
Georgie PURCELL (Northern Victoria): Thank you, President, I give notice on the next day of meeting, I will move that this house notes that;
1. Victoria is second in the country for on-track Greyhound deaths in 2023,
2. 1273 greyhounds have been injured on Victorian race tracks in 2023,
3. There have been 292 major greyhound injuries on Victorian race tracks in 2023 representing a 36% increase from this time last year,
4. There have been 202 serious greyhound injuries on Victorian race tracks in 2023 representing a 46% increase from this time last year,
5. Victoria leads the country in the number of serious on-track greyhound injuries in 2023,
6. As a result of these injuries, there has been significantly more off-track deaths in 2023,
and, calls on the government to acknowledge that despite their in their investment in safety improvements dogs continue to die.
18th May 2023 - Constituent Question - Bendigo farmed animals
Georgie PURCELL (Northern Victoria) : My question is for the Minister for Agriculture. Recently one of my constituents reported a neighbouring property in Huntly to the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action for animal cruelty concerns towards farmed sheep and goats. At this farm animals do not have sufficient food, often become visibly sick and lame and are left untreated to suffer and die in the elements over a number of days. The bodies are then also left to rot over extended periods instead of being removed and disposed of appropriately. This is causing great distress to my constituents, who are concerned for animal welfare as well as the protection of the environment and surrounding waterways. Since being reported to DEECA, the issue has persisted over a matter of months now, without improvement. So my question to the minister is: what was the outcome of DEECA’s investigation into this farm, considering animals continue to suffer and die there?
18th May 2023 - Adjournment Matter - Koala management
Georgie PURCELL (Northern Victoria): My adjournment matter this evening is for the Minister for Environment. The updated Victorian Koala Management Strategy was recently released. It outlines the government’s goals and actions for the conservation and management of Victoria’s koalas for the next 10 years. Significant increasing issues impact Victoria’s koalas, including the climate emergency, major bushfires and planned burning, road strike and the establishment of commercial blue gum plantations and habitat destruction. The vision for the strategy is to ensure Victoria’s koala populations and habitat are secure, healthy and sustainable in the long term. However, the government will also be undertaking koala management programs at high-density populations in accordance with the strategy and framework.
On 8 May it was revealed that American company Alcoa had killed 152 koalas suffering poor health on land adjacent to its Portland aluminium smelter in Victoria. They were killed under the supervision of so-called independent experts during a series of checks undertaken since 2019. Alcoa’s assessments found the population’s health is poor, and over the last two years 60 per cent of animals checked were euthanised due to overpopulation and exposure to fluoride emissions. This was authorised by the conservation regulator.
Alcoa has acknowledged the potential impacts from its operations of fluorosis on wildlife around the site – it is a disease that causes malnutrition as well as skeletal and dental abnormalities – and now plans to encourage a further 120 koalas living in forest near the smelter to relocate through the removal of a 17-hectare plantation which currently supports them. While koalas in the ACT, New South Wales and Queensland are listed as endangered, the Victorian government maintains that Victorian koalas are secure. The government estimates that 50,000 koalas live in plantations, the majority of which are in south-west Victoria. Wildlife groups across Victoria advocate for koalas in blue gum plantations and rescue countless koalas from road strike each and every year.
The recently formed Koala Alliance Victoria is concerned the species is not abundant and that it faces pressure from habitat loss, leading to disease and starvation. Advocates have also reported that planned burns are scheduled or have occurred in known koala habitat with no koala spotters present. Victorians, koala advocates and an increasing international audience as well as me would like to know whether the minister will commit to meeting with Koala Alliance Victoria to hear their concerns regarding the Victorian Koala Management Strategy and koala protection throughout Victoria.