Wild deer inquiry dodged

Tasmanian government avoids questions about feral deer at national Senate inquiry


No-show by government at wild deer inquiry, as it "evades responsibilities"


Questions are being raised about why the Tasmanian government failed to attend a Senate Committee public hearing that was investigating the impacts of feral deer in Australia.

Primary Industries minister Guy Barnett

Primary Industries minister Guy Barnett

The management of wild deer continues to be a divisive issue within the Tasmanian community, with a suggestion raised in Wednesday's hearing that some farmers within the TFGA, who are in favour of recreational hunting, have had "substantial influence" over state deer policy.

Representatives from the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association, University of Tasmania professors, farmers, environmentalists and others, attended the hearing to help the Committee investigate how best to deal with feral deer.

But representatives from the Department of Primary Industries, Water and the Environment were not on the schedule, with Labor Senator Anne Urquhart, who is a member of the Committee, drawing attention to this absence, stating that DPIPWE had declined the offer to attend without explanation.

A DPIPWE spokesperson said short notice prevented them from appearing at the committee.

"The Department made a written submission to the inquiry in October 2018 and is finalising an update on the written submission for the committee," he said.

"The invitation to appear before the committee was received by the Department on Thursday 8 October, with a response required by Friday 9 October. Due to the short notice, the department elected not appear before the committee but to provide a written update."

He said the government has been committed to solutions that take into account the impact of wild deer on primary industries and the environment, and the needs of recreational hunting.

"The department has also carried out an aerial survey to better understand the abundance of wild fallow deer. This is part of a census which continues, with next steps to be camera trapping and citizen science.

"This work will be further strengthened with the development of the new Deer Management Plan announced in August."

But Senator Urquhart acused the government was abrogating its responsibilities "by avoiding questions on this matter".

"It is enormously disappointing and frustrating that representatives of DPIPWE...and the Tasmanian Game Council declined to appear today and present themselves for questioning. I call on the Tasmanian Government to act with greater transparency in this matter and engage properly with this inquiry. What are they trying to hide?"

Greens primary industry spokeswoman Cassy O'Connor labelled the absence an "offensive snub".

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The story Wild deer inquiry dodged first appeared on The Advocate.


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