Jones defends dingo strategy
SUSTAINABILITY Minister Kate Jones has strongly defended her Fraser Island Dingo Management Strategy and denied seeing any evidence that it has resulted in starvation for dingoes or danger to the public.
Ms Jones was responding to 21 written questions submitted to her office by The Gympie Times, outlining concerns and allegations made by critics of the strategy.
The claims, reported on Saturday, led to an emotional reaction from online readers (see blogs below).
Ms Jones also said that a complaint from the Rainbow Beach business community on alleged intimidation of businesses by government employees had been found to be unsubstantiated after an investigation by the Crime and Misconduct Commission.
Asked about the claimed independence of a favourable audit of the strategy, Ms Jones acknowledged that the auditor, Dr Laurie Corbett, was one of those whose research formed the basis of the policy. But this did not compromise his independence.
“Dr Corbett is an independent dingo expert whose research formed part of the basis for the strategy,” she said.
Defending her claim that Dr Corbett was “internationally recognised,” she said his research had been peer reviewed and published academically, and he had been a Howard Government appointee to the Fraser Island World Heritage Area Scientific Advisory Committee.
No dingoes had ever been destroyed for public safety reasons without being “fully identified and recorded as undertaking an aggressive or dangerous action against a person,” she said.
“Since I have been minister there have been no reported deaths of dingoes due to starvation. No-one has sent me a photo of a dingo that has died of starvation since I have been minister.”
Ms Jones denied that the Government was reducing dingo numbers to prepare the area for marketing as a resort site.
“No decision has been made to sell development rights to an eco-tourism operator near Eurong,” she said.
“The site was one of seven across the state identified for expressions of interest. This process has not been finalised.”
She also said it was wrong to blame her strategy for attacks such as the one that led to the death of child visitor Clinton Gage.
“The death of Clinton Gage occurred before (the current) strategy was in place. Since (then) no resident or visitor to the island has died as a consequence of a dingo attack. It was a Labor government that introduced laws that give Fraser Island dingoes special legal protection.
“I’m advised forestry management staff shot dingoes as part of their feral pest management activities and because of attacks on people (but) there was no legal requirement – unlike today – (to keep) records of the number shot during this time.”