Adjournment Debate – Burrum Heads flying foxes

Thursday, 23 March 2023

Mr PITT: For the information of the member who just spoke, it is the Labor Party in opposition that holds the record for the most number of times they have called divisions, quorums and made the bells ring and misplace since Federation, so I think it is a bit precious to make those types of comments. I was on the road last week doing what’s collectively known as ‘Pitt stops’ all over the Hinkler electorate—in Urangan, Pialba and Burrum, Buxton, Woodgate, Childers, lots of places in Bundaberg and all over the show. People were very much concerned about power prices and about the cost of living—the No. 1 issue for all of them. I represent a lot of people who do not have a lot of money at their disposal. Every single time costs go up it makes their lives far more difficult than they need to be. For them, that was the No. 1 issue.

At No. 2 was the voice, and they were almost unanimously opposed, apart from one individual who had some sympathy for one element out of the three but would oppose it anyway if the three were put forward in the current format. In no surprise to me, they are tired of getting 20, 30, 10, welcome to countrys at every event they go to. They have no issue with someone making that acknowledgement but to have it from every speaker in every format and in every videoconference was something that quite simply they did not think was necessary.

They support a nuclear industry. What we know is that federal Labor, with a commitment through AUKUS—a security arrangement which clearly we originally negotiated and secured—will have a nuclear industry in Australia. That’s the bottom line. It’s already here. You’ll have the people, you will have the facilities, you will have to deal with waste and you will have to lift the moratorium; that’s a statement of fact.

I do these ‘Pitt stops’ twice a year where I can and sometimes no-one shows up. Sometimes I get two or three, 10, 15, 20, 30, but at Burrum Heads, which is in the middle of my electorate, a beautiful coastal village at the river heads of the Barwon River, I got 63 people show up for a roadside. For that to happen, there has to be a serious issue for all of them. I thank them all for turning out. It’s not a federal issue. It’s not one for which I could take much action other than raise here—that is, a flying fox colony at Burrum Heads. It’s their belief that the colony moved from Fraser Island when it was severely burnt out in a fire last year or the year before, if I recall correctly, which, in my view, could have been put out but they were prevented from using saltwater to put out the fire. They had to fly and take from the freshwater supply inland, which slowed the delivery by helicopters.

Regardless of all that, the community is incredibly concerned about this very large flying fox colony that is in a lagoon around their small township. To give you an idea of some of the impact, one of the residents raised with me the fact that all her now deceased husband wanted to do was sit on his back deck of his home in his last days and hours and he simply couldn’t because the flying fox population. For those of you who have ever dealt up with them, they smell awful, they are incredibly noisy and it is just not manageable. For this issue to have not been dealt with by local and state governments, in my view, is an absolute disgrace. They have had ample time. There are well-known methods to move on flying fox colonies.

Since when did the amenity of a flying fox colony become more important than that of the human population in a town centre? We deal with these issues in the Northern Territory, in North Queensland, in fact all over the place. Australia is a really big country. There are lots of places for flying fox colonies to be based where they don’t have this interaction. The idea that you can’t move them on, that there is not a process, is wrong. I am advised that there are steps that can be taken. I have written to council. I have written to the state member. They both responded; although one responded by saying, ‘We’ll get back to you in 28 days.’ The state MP did call my office and said they had raised the matter with the department of environment. I say to the state Labor member: that is great but how about they do something? This is a fundamental problem for the people who live there. It smells bad. Their houses get covered in faeces. It’s incredibly noisy. It directly impacts their amenity and the way that they live their life in what is a beautiful seaside village.

So I say again to Fraser Coast council and to the Queensland Labor government: stop messing about. Pick up the phone, call one another and sort this out. For me to get 60 people at a roadside says this is a massive issue locally that needs to be fixed.

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