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Motions: 1080 poison

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Samantha Ratnam
Leader of the Victorian Greens
11 May 2022

I am pleased to make some brief comments in support of this motion. Phasing out the use of 1080 poison in Victoria is longstanding Greens policy. We know, like many in the community, that 1080 poison is a cruel and inhumane method of animal control that does not belong in Victoria. Animals who have consumed 1080 poison die a painful and prolonged death anywhere between a few hours and two days after consuming the poison. The poison causes severe effects, including tremors, vomiting, screaming fits and severe seizures. It has been described as akin to being electrocuted for two days.

The use of 1080 poison contaminates our waterways and can last in areas for up to a year. It has no taste or smell, making it impossible to use it to target just one species, and because it is often distributed through aerial baiting, it is spread indiscriminately across our regions, meaning that any animal could ingest the poison. It is frequently consumed by non-target species, like domestic pets, or native species like the endangered spotted-tail quoll.

In Victoria we also use 1080 poison to deliberately target the endangered and increasingly at risk dingo, a move which is not backed up by the evidence. The persistent misconception that dingoes threaten livestock numbers, like sheep, is disproved by the fact that sheep losses from dingoes are very low—fewer than 200 per 1 million sheep each year. Rather than addressing a threat to biosecurity, it actually creates one by thinning the numbers of our apex predator and reducing its sway over the invasive populations it helps control.

The use of this dangerous poison is now out of step with community values. I have tabled petitions in this chamber calling for 1080 poison to be banned for good, and thousands of signed petitions are hosted on platforms such as change.org. The rest of the world has already banned or restricted the use of 1080, recognising it for what it is: a dangerous chemical weapon. Australia is once again an outlier on nature and the environment.

Phasing out 1080 poison was one of the recommendations of the Environment and Planning Committee’s inquiry into ecosystem decline. The Greens-initiated inquiry was a landmark investigation into biodiversity and ecosystems in Victoria, and its findings were stark. The fact is we are already in an extinction crisis, with over 2000 species on Victoria’s threatened species list. Invasive species are one of the biggest threats to our native wildlife. Along with phasing out 1080 and researching more humane methods for controlling pest animals, the committee’s report included eight other recommendations for managing invasive species, including reviewing the legislative framework to, amongst other things, make invasive species a responsibility of the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change; ensuring a focus on preserving biodiversity rather than facilitating agriculture; providing adequate resources to implement the existing legislative responsibilities; trialling the reintroduction of dingoes as an apex predator in appropriate regions; funding research into decontrol methods; and considering a range of mechanisms for controlling feral cats. I note the government is due to respond to the inquiry at the beginning of next month. I expect the government to be taking all of these recommendations relating to invasive species as well as the impacts on climate change and habitat loss very seriously.

The report also found that Victoria has been grossly underfunding conservation and biodiversity measures to the tune of billions of dollars. It was very disappointing that the latest budget contains virtually no new funding for protecting our environment or saving our threatened species. In fact over the forward estimates the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning is set to lose $900 million in an almost $1 billion reduction in spending on the environment over the next four years from this government. At a time when our environment is already at serious risk and our extinction crisis continues to worsen, we cannot delay action any longer. The significant report into the ecosystem decline represents a turning point for our state, where if we did have a big funding boost we could reverse the damage to our environment and restore it to health for all of us and for future generations. I look forward to the government’s response and expect to see a full acceptance of the recommendations, including the phase-out of 1080 poison.

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Samantha Ratnam
Leader of the Victorian Greens
11 May 2022
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