Claims of Fraser Island 'cover-up'
THE Queensland Government’s World Heritage management of Fraser Island has been called into question internationally over claimed incompetence and malice.
Opposition Shadow Sustainability Minister Glen Elmes said he had “taken steps to ensure that UNESCO, the organisation charged with overseeing World Heritage listed areas, has been advised of the island’s plight”.
He described island management as “incompetent at best” and a betrayal of state government conservation obligations.
Sustainability Minister Kate Jones rejected the criticism, saying all the “good ideas” in a report tabled by Mr Elmes this week had been implemented already.
Mr Elmes accused her Department of Environment and Resource Management of a major cover-up of mismanagement, environmental damage and “ruthless and cruel” policies on dingo management.
He described an earlier government report as “yet another attempt by this discredited department to sanitise and cover up its neglect”.
Mr Elmes told Parliament this week that he had read the report, estimating the death of 97 dingoes from causes listed in autopsy reports as “lethal injection, shot, run over, poisoned, starvation and others”.
“One autopsy lists under possible cause of death, ‘rifle-itis,’ while another states ‘half an ounce of hot lead,” he said.
“Labor’s interim report shows happy snaps of a dingo family, dingoes on the beach, dingoes frolicking in the water, a dingo running up the beach with a fish in its mouth.
“On a normal day, those dingoes would be hazed by rangers – that is shot with a clay pellet, moving them away from the beach and away from their main food source,” he said.
“We have a state government peddling information, which it still considers credible, that goes back to 1990.
“A couple of weeks ago we saw a stage-managed tour for journalists.
“The result? A sanitised all-is-well-in-paradise image relayed to the general public.
“By contrast, we have a small but growing group – some islanders, some from the Save the Fraser Island Dingo organisation, indigenous people and long-term visitors – all dedicated to the island who are systematically ignored, harassed and belittled,” he said.
In one case there was a legalised home invasion, (which) if it happened when we were in government, would have seen protesters in the street,” Mr Elmes said.