The Palaszczuk Government will introduce its Animal Care and Protection Amendment Bill in the next sitting of Parliament, which could see the carting of unrestrained dogs in vehicles banned and mandatory surveillance cameras installed in abattoirs among a host of other animal welfare protection measures.
Also in the government’s sights is yellow phosphorus, a lethal poison used to control feral pigs.
Referred to as CSSP, the government wants it outlawed because, according to the experts who have spoken to InQueensland, it has a “shocking mode of action” that leaves the animal to die a long and painful death and is often ingested by “non-target species” such as native animals.
According to Agriculture Minister Mark Furner’s office, CSSP pig poison is not used extensively in Queensland and more humane alternatives are readily available.
Katter’s Australian Party MPs Robbie Katter and Shane Knuth want to the government to reconsider the timing of the ban in the face of the country’s growing foot and mouth disease (FMD) threat.
Their calls come as FMD fragments were last week detected in meat brought into Melbourne from overseas.
A leading veterinarian told the ABC the biosecurity breach would only pose a risk to Australia’s agriculture sector if the infected meat was consumed by animals, and the most likely culprit would be pigs which “eat anything”.
That makes Australia’s estimated 25 million feral pig population a massive target for any future incursions of the deadly virus, which farm groups say will cost the Australian economy an estimated $80 billion if it breaches our biosecurity shield.
“All the more reason to be doing more to eradicate the nation’s feral pig population, not less,” Katter said.
“All it would take is for infected meat to be innocently put in a farm compost bin or people have a barbecue in the bush and leave meat scraps and which are then consumed by pigs; that could lead to an outbreak.”
He said the State Government should delay plans to ban CSSP by at least two years.
“As a tool in the fight against feral pests, it is a necessary evil at this point given the threat posed to our entire country by FMD,” he said.
“Should this disease find its way into Australia, it is very likely pigs with be amongst greatest vectors so there has never been a more pertinent time to get on top of our feral pig problem.”
A statement provided to InQueensland by Furner’s office said withdrawing the poison would not increase the threat of FMD.
“Effective feral pig control requires a combination of control methods such as shooting, poisoning, trapping and fencing with appropriate land management practices,” the statement said.
KAP MP Shane Knuth, who represents the electorate of Hill around Innisfail, said also wants the government to grant feral pig hunters permits to access National Parks and State Forests, introduce a bounty program, give farmers access grants to combat feral pigs, and provide more funds to enable aerial shooting.
He said it was estimated that 8.25 per cent of Queensland was designated national parks, or about 14.2 million hectares.
He said a massive number of feral pigs use State-protected areas for breeding before entering private land where they destroy millions of dollars’ worth of agriculture as well as waterways and native flora and fauna each year.
“The risk of them spreading FMD is huge, which is why we keep calling on the government to back recreational pig hunters and aerial shooting,” Knuth said.