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• O’brien in Comments: “Mr ROCKLIFF – Mr Llewellyn was the father of the fox task-force, so I guess that questions from the opposite side mean they want to re-establish the fox task-force, is that right? Labour/labor was chasing imaginary foxes around the state, putting all that resource into the fox task force and leaving other areas of biosecurity completely exposed. That is not what this Government is about.” (Hansard 16th September 2015). Pardon Minister, “chasing imaginary foxes”? With three words Minister Rockliff has opened Pandora’s box. On the one hand we have the Minister admitting his perception of the $52,000,000 fox programme ... On the other hand it seems, as far as the Minister is concerned, that is the end of the matter. Just how long are we the people of Tasmania expected to suffer such nonsense? If/when confronted with a genuine threat to Tassie’s wildlife are we to expect the same brilliant minds at the helm?

• Transcript from The Veterinarian ...

Transcript of Fox story in Veterinarian Otober 2015 – Tasmania’s Decade

After spending almost 15 years trying to determine whether fox populations have become established in Tasmania, the state government’s Primary Industries Minister Jeremy Rockliff recently acknowledged millions of dollars had been wasted: “chasing imaginary foxes around the state”.

Rockliff made the comment while responding to a parliamentary question by Opposition spokesperson David Lewellyn that criticized Tasmania’s biosecurity program.

When former Labor Government first established the Fox Eradication Task force in 2001 it received widespread support from all sides of politics and Tasmania’s agricultural sector, in recognition foxes would prove a serious threat to the state’s wildlife and biodiversity.

However despite employing over 60 employees at its peak, and receiving state and federal funding that amounted to $50 million, the controversial, and renamed, Fox Eradication Program never found reliable evidence foxes were in the state and in 2013 the current Liberal state government closed it down and merged its responsibilities to include all invasive species.

The Fox issue has long been a controversial one for Tasmania, and Rockliff was not always of the opinion the fox presence was “imaginary”. He was equally critical of Lewellyn’s failure to allocate more money to the FEP in 2006, when Labor was in government.

Rockliff’s reversal stunned long-time fox sceptic, and independent member of Tasmania’s Legislative Council, Ivan Dean, who unsuccessfully sought a government inquiry into the FEP last year. Dean said he had been “hung out to dry and called a moron for my stance”.

While he congratulated Rockliff’s revised position about the issue of foxes in Tasmania, another long –time critic of the governments FEP, wildlife biologist David Obendorf, said it had taken too long, and Tasmanians deserved an explanation.

“The Tasmanian Labor Party were in government for the whole time this expensive for program operated. An independent science panel of which I was a member – worked for nearly five years reviewing all aspects of the Tasmanian Fox Program. We’ve now published our research findings in leading international science journals. We concluded that there was no empirical evidence that a fox population existed in Tasmania- localized or widespread. Consequently the justification to keep the taxpayer-funded program going for over a decade, supported by tens of millions of dollars, needs to be critically reviewed and published, “ Obendorf said.

• That bogus letter in the Ex (Comment 42) ...