HIGH praise in the Australian Senate this week for the Bathurst Kangaroo Project’s relocation program was tempered significantly by the strange response from the government.
Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon called on the Senate to recognise the great job Bathurst Regional Council was doing in working with a committed band of scientists, veterinarians and community volunteers to find a non-lethal way to managekangaroo numbers in the Mount Panorama precinct.
It is a project that has won the support of local businesses and community clubs and, as Ms Rhiannon said, should be held up as an example for all communities in finding new ways to battle old problems.
In truth, Ms Rhiannon’s praise probably missed the mark a little because while council has now confirmed its strong supportfor the project, it had to be dragged kicking and screaming to the table.
Senior council staff, in particular, have appeared resentful of the money –around $50,000 –spent on the project so far, primarily on hiring fencing for a temporary holding compound on College Road.
But that penny-pinching attitude has ignored the estimated $300,000 in professional fees supplied pro bono for the project so far, and also ignores the thousands spent on previous fauna studies and management plans that have done nothing to thin kangaroo numbers on and around the Mount.
If the relocation project is a success –and there are no guarantees what will happen, given this is the first time such a project has been attempted –then it will have achieved maximum results for a minimum outlay for council.
The real heroes that deserve Ms Rhiannon’s praise are project leaders Ray Mjadwesch and Helen Bergen who have committed countless unpaid hours to ensuring the kangaroos are safe and well in the compound, and those scientists and volunteers who have helped make it a success so far.
For all that, it is hard to see whyLiberal Senator James McGrath would seek to downplay what has been achieved.
He, too, seemed to think $50,000 was too much to spend on relocating a few kangaroos, though we have to wonder if the senator fully grasped the broader context of the story.
With any luck, this could be the best $50,000 Bathurst Regional Council has ever spent.
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