In the 47th Parliament of Tasmania, which Minister is taking responsibility for foxes?
Ever since the war on foxes commenced in Tasmania, the Minister-responsible has been the Primary Industries minister - 1998-2002 (David Llewellyn), 2002-2004 (Bryan Green), 2004-2006 (Steve Kons) and 2006-2010 (David Llewellyn again). During the 12 years of Labor administration, Ministers for the ‘Environment’ like Judy Jackson, Paula Wriedt and Michelle O’Byrne have had minimal input into the operations or the budget of fox-free Tasmania or the fox eradication programs.
In the new parliament, Bryan Green is again the Minister for Primary Industries whilst Michelle O’Byrne’s brother - David O’Byrne is now commissioned as the Minister for the Environment.
In Parliament on 10 June, 2010, Tim Morris, Tasmanian Greens MHA asked David O’Byrne: “As the new Environment minister, what are you going to do to exercise your powers to protect threatened species as well as their habitats from further destruction in Tasmania?”
In part, David O’Byrne replied: “I can report to the House, however, that as the new Environment minister with new portfolio areas of conservation and dealing with foxes, the Tasmanian devil - the Green issues, as they are referred to, as opposed to traditionally in…’ [He was promptly cut off by the Speaker, Michael Polley, and David never finished his sentence!]
To date there has been no public fox comments from Bryan Green; the holder of the ministry that has ‘traditionally’ taken responsibility for foxes.
With the Budget Estimates scrutiny committees, it’s essential that the parliamentarians know who is the relevant Minister and the relevant bureaucrats responsible for the operational activities and the budget of this $36 million-plus item.
A failure to provide clarity on this topic might see public scrutiny on this topic turn out to be an elusive quarry; as elusive as the foxes themselves.