Greens Deputy Leader, Christine Milne today revealed today the shocking state of Tasmania's wildlife disease service. The Greens Senator said she was saddened and stunned to hear a wildlife disease hotline promoted by the State government is answered by a local security company with no knowledge of veterinary science.
"I am sickened at the low level of priority Premier Bartlett and Minister David Llewellyn give wildlife disease. It is beyond comprehension that the Tasmanian government has placed a security company in charge of monitoring wildlife disease throughout the state."
"This must be rectified."
"Every other Australian state and territory has either trained departmental staff or a senior veterinary officer ready to take calls from people reporting incidents of disease; and who do we have in Tasmania? A local security firm more accustomed to parcel delivery than the preservation of our wildlife."
"If the implications were not so serious this would be laughable, but as it stands we are faced with a hopeless and ineffective system which may also be illegal."
"The 1995 Animal Health Act requires all Tasmanians by law to report any notifiable disease to a designated inspector.
"Minister Llewellyn, take note. The staff of Day Nite Security are not inspectors. They are by their own admission an answering service for the department, which clearly does not satisfy the legal requirements as laid out in your own Act."
"I am concerned that vital reports of wildlife disease will not always make it through to the department. Recently my office was contacted by a constituent worried about an abundance of dead and dying wallabies on her property. She called the government's hotline only to be met by a confused member of staff asking her why she was reporting it to a security firm."
"This is not the way to address wildlife disease in Tasmania. Each failed report is another missed opportunity to discover more about what is decimating our treasured wildlife, and more importantly, how we can stop it."
"Right now, right across the state, we have devils dying from a contagious cancer, wombats so heavily infected with mange that they can barely walk or feed; we have a echidnas starving to death because they can no longer break into ant nests due to mysterious swellings on their feet; our platypus suffer from bodily lesions while their mainland cousins stay healthy; the rare orange-bellied parrot is being ravaged by Chlamydia; and chytrid disease, responsible for the greatest loss of Australian vertebrate biodiversity in recent times, is pushing three species of endemic Tasmanian frogs towards extinction."
"The Bartlett government has so neglected the management of our protected areas that Tasmania has only one ranger per 51,000 hectares of protected land, so it is vital that we have a mechanism that effectively utilises the vigilance of our community.
"Using a security firm to do the work of the department is a clear sign of indifference and neglect."