MP loses fight to stop flying fox cull on welfare grounds
A STAND against "open killing season on Queensland's flying foxes" in Queensland Parliament failed, with Gladstone and Burnett MPS among those backing the changes.
Labor's South Brisbane MP Jackie Trad made a disallowance motion on Wednesday night against the flying foxes amendment regulation on animal welfare grounds.
She argued the regulation set quotas without scientific backing to allow 10,580 bats to be killed each year - 1280 grey headed, 1800 spectacled, 3500 black and 4000 little reds.
"Shooting flying foxes is not only cruel, there is not one scrap of evidence to show that it is effective," she said.
"It could potentially have significant detrimental effects on the Queensland environment and our state's precious biodiversity."
Burnett MP Stephen Bennett said Ms Trad's likening the flying fox issue to butterflies would resonate with his suffering community for a long time.
"The damage caused by flying foxes is a serious issue and for decades growers in the electorate of Burnett have been trying a range of non-lethal methods to deter flying foxes from their crops like lighting infrastructure, bird fright and netting of different types," he said.
"We need this legislation to protect jobs and livelihoods, after the damage caused recently (from cyclone Oswald) with no power and nets.
"This is an industry that represents more than 400 farmers and $400 million of farm gate industry in the Burnett electorate.
"The previous arrangements did nothing to assist with the ecological sustainability of flying foxes.
"I believe that the new flying fox laws get the balance right.
"They give growers an additional option of lethal control as a last resort while maintaining strong conservation and animal welfare provisions."
Gladstone MP Liz Cunningham said fruit bats had beautiful faces and were wonderful animals which were well protected throughout the state, noting caves outside Rockhampton.
But she said there was a caravan park in her electorate which had to put up with the odour, impost and health issues from a bat colony in the nearby creek.
Ms Cunningham said there were a group of retirees at Boyne Tannum who would go outside their homes at 4am each day using torches, lights and the tops off their pots and pans.
"That bat colony moved across the river and everybody was happy after that. However, it is not always that easy," she said.
"Yesterday, we stood in this place and spoke about our condolences for families who have lost everything in a flood.
"We heard how citrus growers and other growers will have to wait for two or three years for a return on their crops if, indeed, they can save any trees.
"Are we going to turn around and say to them that, by the way, they have no other option for getting rid of a bat problem than to pay thousands of dollars-and I think it is about $25,000-to effectively net an area.
"I am going to exercise the will of my community, because there are sections that want damage mitigation permits, not just for fruit growing but also for safe human habitation.
"I want to see those people have all of the options.
"I do not support the disallowance motion. I support the regulation."
Environment Minister Andrew Powell said the Gladstone MP had made a "thoughtful, commonsense and practical contribution" to the debate and it was almost worth sitting down without saying another word.
He did not.
Mr Powell said the government put in strict measures to address concerns flying foxes would not be killed humanely.
He said the standards had been developed in consultation with key stakeholders such as RSPCA Queensland and the Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland.
"The code of practice is very explicit in its prescriptions, covering every possible scenario from accidental wounding to orphaned young," he said.
"At all times those with lethal damage mitigation permits must act in accordance with these ethical standards or their permits will be revoked."
Mr Powell said the new statutory code limited the number of permits and provided a quota to ensure flying fox shooting deaths were capped at a sustainable maximum number.
He said the code also provided clarity to growers about the non-lethal methods they must have in place before obtaining a permit.