Canberra Liberals election initiative an endorsement of ACT Government policy

Australian Greens

Today, the Canberra Liberals have endorsed a longstanding ACT Government policy to commission an independent review into the Eastern Grey Kangaroo Management Program.

Minister for the Environment Rebecca Vassarotti said the Canberra Liberals announcement is redundant in light of an independent review which is already underway.

“If the Canberra Liberals actually wanted a review into kangaroo management, they would know that the Government has already commissioned an independent reviewer to look over the program,” Minister Vassarotti said.

“This is an independent and mandatory review which is required to take place regularly.

“If the Canberra Liberals were actually interested in evidence-based policy, they wouldn’t be calling for a review when there is already one in progress.

“The Canberra Liberals don’t actually want an independent review. Instead, they’re using this political stunt to try and create a fake narrative that this program isn’t based on evidence.

“They’re trying to create a fake narrative that it isn’t regularly reviewed, and that the Government isn’t actively engaging with community and stakeholders on the evidence.

“Despite this, just last week the independent reviewer wrote to stakeholders, inviting them to participate in this review.

“The annual activation of the Eastern Grey Kangaroo Management program is a necessary part of good environmental stewardship.

“The independent review is also a necessary part of good governance. That’s why I stand by the review currently being undertaken.

“It’s not as simple as putting a hold to all program activities. Kangaroo management is the difference between a healthy environment and the destruction of our native ecosystems.

Key review processes that have been undertaken since the program began in 2009 include:

  • 2010 – The ACT Kangaroo Management Plan was released. This plan provides principles, objectives and policies relating to kangaroo management in the ACT. Its explanations include over 400 references including approximately 125 peer reviewed science journals and 155 books or book chapters, most of which have been peer reviewed.
  • The conservation cull has been challenged in the ACAT three times: 2012 (did not go to hearing), 2013 and 2014 (reported in Animal Liberation ACT v Conservator of Flora and Fauna (Administrative Review) [2014] ACAT 35). Additionally, the cull of Eastern Grey Kangaroos on Defence land was challenged in 2009. All four challenges were unsuccessful and the ACAT held that the conservation cull on both Territory and Defence land was valid.
  • 2014 – Kurahaupo Consulting independently reviewed the kangaroo population count methods, count results, the method for determining the number of kangaroos to cull in the ACT, and the science behind the relevant parts of the 2010 Kangaroo Management Plan. The review endorsed the ACT Government’s counting methods and culling advice.
  • 2017 – The Eastern Grey Kangaroo: Controlled Native Species Management Plan was released. This plan is an update on the 2010 Kangaroo Management Plan and applies only to Eastern Grey Kangaroos in the ACT. It is a statutory plan under the Nature Conservation Act 2014 and includes two instruments detailing the process for calculating the number of kangaroos to cull for conservation and rural purposes. This plan incorporates relevant research conducted since 2010, and some updates to policies and codes of practice.
  • 2018 -The ACT Government’s adaptive management approach to managing kangaroo impacts on conservation lands was reviewed by a panel of experts during a Kangaroo Management Research Workshop. A report was prepared detailing recommendations, including the adoption of a management goal for grassy ecosystems of maintaining native grass heights between 5 and 15cm tall. This recommendation has become a key component of the management program.
  • 2008, 2011, 2015, 2019 and 2022 – Phone polls of ACT residents’ opinions to kangaroo management have been undertaken.
  • In 2021 staff from ACT Government contributed to numerous peer reviewed journal articles that were published in the special issue “Optimum management of overabundant macropods” in the journal Ecological Management & Restoration.
  • Macropod culling is conducted under the strictest animal welfare standards. An independent audit of compliance with National Code of Practice for the Humane Shooting of Kangaroos and Wallabies for Non-Commercial Purposes is undertaken at 5-7-year intervals. A 2017 audit found that all aspects of the Code of Practice were complied with.

Current reviews being undertaken by the ACT Government include:

  • Update to community support research.
    • Completed in December 2022, the Environment Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate contracted Micromex Research to undertake a random telephone survey of 605 ACT residents to gauge current attitudes towards kangaroos and kangaroo management. Key results from the 2022 survey include:
      • 54% of respondents were satisfied or very satisfied with ACT Government’s current management of kangaroos.
      • 76% believe the culling of kangaroos is appropriate under certain circumstances.
      • 66% are supportive of kangaroo culling for the conservation of grassland and woodland animals.
      • 71% believe it is important/very important to develop and apply fertility control methods to control the breeding of kangaroos in Canberra.
    • Overall, the results of the survey show that most ACT residents value kangaroos and support the ACT Government’s management practices. However, there remains the need for the government to continually remind and reaffirm the goals and purpose of kangaroo management in the ACT to ensure the community has access to information about the program.
  • Review the 2017 Eastern Grey Kangaroo: Controlled Native Species Management Plan.
    • A review of the plan is being undertaken in 2023 and will include:
    • Evaluation of the effectiveness of the conservation culling program in achieving target population densities and grass structure,
    • Review of the 2017 Plan, the culling calculator instruments, the methods used to estimate kangaroo density and the above evaluation by an independent reviewer,
    • Consultation with key stakeholder groups including the Ngunnawal community.

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