Rule No.1:  Create the impression that it’s a done deal.

In the backrooms of political spivs, there is a well tried art of semaphoring that something is going to happen and then waiting to see if it triggers a revolt or outcry from the ‘sheep’. It is important to sound confident but considerate.

If there is mute — even deathly silence — then the politics move to Rule No. 2: Covering your arse.

This ensures that the government and its operatives and any other less obvious subsidiaries are indemnified in case the thing you are proposing goes pear-shaped.

Very loaded terms like ‘due diligence’, ‘due process’, ‘risk assessment, ‘impact assessment’, ‘fiduciary duty’, ‘consultation’ are then bandied about in getting the ‘done deal’ through the necessary approvals sorry, assessment process.

The really sad part about all this is if you are in a political bureaucracy AND this is how you have habitually operated, you will really believe it is the way to go.

Take an example that I’m familiar with [you might consider the history of the Pulp Mill or Ralphs Bay Marina development in the same context]. Devils are in danger of dying out in the next few decades as a direct consequence of the transmissible facial tumour.

After nearly a decade of observing the decline and tracking the disease spread across Tasmania, the decision has now been made to round up 30-odd (hopefully disease-free) wild devils and take them somewhere they can keep on living as disease-free devils.

The need for an emergency evacuation plan of wild devils to a refuge is what it has now come to.

Perhaps it’s a reasonable response … who knows?

Since the first case in 1996 of this cancer in a devil, we still do not know what causes this disease.

Is it a transmissible cancer related to a one-off spontaneous emergence that has just explosively cascaded through the devil population by direct animal to animal spread via biting?

Has this new wildlife disease emerged from the Tasmanian devil being exposed to a cryptic pathogen that is capable of causing the chromosomal alterations seen in this cancer?

Has this new wildlife disease in Tasmanian devils been triggered by unique exposure event to one or more man-made synthetic chemicals that are carcinogenic, mutagenic or geno-toxic?

There are no definite answers to these questions AND there is no test for ‘the disease’.

In the face of this uncertainty, inherent assumptions need to be built into any decision-making about managing this disease.

Has this disease spontaneously generated from one location and at one time?

If uncertainty still exists with answering that question, then what are the likely causes and conditions that might predispose a ‘healthy’ devil population to developing DFTD in future?

According to public statements two weeks ago, the Devil Taskforce group has prepared an Environmental Impact Assessment on the planned transfer of disease-free Tasmanian devils to an offshore island. According to Malcolm Turnbull, the federal minister for the environment, Maria Island NP has been selected as the release island.

Does this complete document exist?

If so, can the EIS be made available those interested?

 

David Obendorf

Has this new wildlife disease in Tasmanian devils been triggered by unique exposure event to one or more man-made synthetic chemicals that are carcinogenic, mutagenic or geno-toxic?