Natural Resources Committee: Arid Lands Fact Finding Visit

Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (11:40): I rise to support the second report of the Natural Resources Committee, entitled 'Fact finding visit: South Australian arid lands natural resources management region'. I think it is fantastic that the committee has managed to get up to this beautiful part of our state in the electorate of the minister and member for Stuart. I have been there myself several times with the current member for Stuart and the previous member for Stuart, and I went up on a trip when invited by the previous minister, the member for Mawson. I visited outback areas, and I appreciated that opportunity.

It is always good to get out and about in the bush. Apart from work trips, I have done quite a few trips up through the arid lands myself, through Innamincka, Marree, William Creek, Oodnadatta and Birdsville. I did not try to order a cocktail at the Birdsville Hotel, as it is rumoured someone did. Be that as it may, it is a great part of the world. Obviously, Birdsville is in Queensland. It is such a great place to visit, and my most recent visit was during not the most recent school holidays but the ones before, when I took my younger son, Angus.

The member for Heysen talked about the tourism impact. It is always a great education when you run into people on trips, and you meet amazing people, whether at Marree or William Creek. You may never see these people again because a lot of them are just grey nomads touring around. You have a great chat around a camp fire and then off they go. I came back through Coober Pedy on this previous trip. What interested me so much is the huge impact by tourists in a positive way, and Phil Turner from the Marree Hotel told me that two million visitors a year go through those outback and arid areas, spilling over into the outback areas of New South Wales. That is absolutely fantastic.

Obviously, we have to be cognisant of the impact on bush tracks, but most people would stick to the main roads. I must say that I was very impressed when I asked at William Creek about the connection through to Oodnadatta. They said that it is like a highway, and it is. As I have done here before, I must commend the outback road crew for the work they have done on that road. It is better than any rubble road in the Coorong council, I can say that, but that does not take much.

The Hon. D.C. van Holst Pellekaan: Ceduna Bulk Hauliers, as well.

Mr PEDERICK: Ceduna Bulk Hauliers were involved, fantastic work by Ceduna Bulk Hauliers from the member for Flinders' area. I also want to talk about some of the issues with overabundant native species not just on land but in the water, and it is a passion of mine. Obviously, we have issues with wild dogs, and we have committed $300,000 to help maintain the dog fence and trappers. On the recent visit to Coober Pedy, I took young Angus to visit the dog fence so that he could see why it is so necessary in this state.

I have had a couple of visits to Cowarie Station, Sharon Oldfield's place near Mungeranie. She is north of the dog fence and explained the impact of dogs on calves. They were losing many calves. Because they are an organic property, they cannot use 1080 because of their export status to America, so there is a lot of shooting and night shooting to try to protect their cattle. It is a live issue, and I think there needs to be some more reality around the use of 1080 on those organic stations.

For sheep farmers mainly, but also for cattle farmers below the dog fence, we have to be cognisant of the fact that the dogs are coming further south all the time. I think there has been one found at Kapunda and others also up through the Riverland. They will keep pushing and pushing and we have to make more effort to keep them under control.

I get a bit dismayed at times when I hear about the tens of thousands of wild goats that are shot and dropped and not harvested, because goat meat is the most consumed meat in the world. It is a great resource and it can be processed by Thomas Foods. Goats are actually an asset if you can round them up, instead of just culling them.

We are overrun with millions and millions of kangaroos. I know there are good companies which harvest kangaroos, like Macro Meats, and which take their animal welfare standards to an extremely high level. They have a very successful export business with kangaroo meat and it is being consumed more and more locally as well. But we need to have some reality around this because some people think we should just let everything roam free, including rabbits, foxes and kangaroos. Their argument is that obviously culling does not work because they keep coming. I can tell you that, if we were not culling a lot of these pest animals, we would be overrun.

As we already see in suburban areas and certainly through southern farming land, more and more kangaroos are coming into the city, and we have to be serious about them. Crash repairers love them, I can tell you. I have had various appointments with my cars. I am sorry to the Pratt family at Graham Edwards, as I have not pranged one for a while. Now that I have said it, I will. They do a great job when I hit a kangaroo, and I have hit several in my work cars.

Something that is also a pest are the hundreds of thousands of camels in the arid lands. I have a friend who drives trains between Adelaide and Perth and he has hit 22 camels. Thankfully, it is the train 22 and camels zero. They are a real issue and crash through fence lines and cause real chaos up there. They can also be harvested and value-added.

While I have the floor, I must take the opportunity to speak about an extension of the issue of overabundant native species and the ever-increasing issue of New Zealand fur seals or, as some like to call them, long-nosed fur seals. I have been on this campaign for over seven or eight years. We need to take some real action with regard to these fur seals because I do not believe they are just impacting heavily on the inland waters of the Coorong, Lake Albert and Lake Alexandrina. More and more fishermen who fish out in the open waters, are saying to me, 'What are you going to do about the ones out here?' I say, 'Let's work on the inland waters first.'

The federal government has done the right thing. Greg Hunt has got out of the way of what could be the appropriate action of a sustainable harvest. I will use the word 'cull'. I think it is part of a necessary regime to cull something like the very low hundreds annually. When you look at a population that even eight years ago was said to be at 100,000 and increasing at 5½ per cent per annum, and some are saying increasing at far more than that, it is another reason why we need to take some real action, instead of researchers telling us they just want to research these things ad infinitum. We need to make some real effort. We need the department to take a proper look. I applaud the Minister for Environment, David Speirs, who has indicated that everything needs to be on the table.

We need to have a good look at overabundant native species. Certainly, in line with this report, they obviously had a bit of a look at overabundant native species in the arid lands, and I applaud the Natural Resources Committee for doing that. They already know this, but I will be seeking to speak to their committee on that inquiry because we need to take real action. Some people take the easy road and say, 'We'll just buy out the fishing licences.' Well, the fishermen are making more money than they ever did. Seriously, have a good look at these people: self-employed, hiring South Australians and boosting our economy. We really need to assist our industries, but we have to do it in a balanced way and manage our overabundant species appropriately.