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What does it take? Kangaroo tales and U turns

Life on land

“As soon as the ALP Federal Government is elected it would ban the export of Kangaroo meat and fur for commercial purposes and it would consult with the states to protect Kangaroos”. J F Cairns, MHR

Peter and Andrea Hylands

April 15, 2024

Labor’s U turn from Kangaroo conservationists to the promoters and enablers of the slaughter and extreme cruelty is hard to fathom.  Here we see how some things have changed in a most extraordinary way, while other things appear never to change. These two factors in combination, make life for Kangaroos on the Australian Continent ever harder.

You will note the signature of Kim Beazley Senior on the petition below, some 40 years or so later his son, Kim Beazley Junior, another Labor politician, pops up in California defending and promoting the slaughter of Kangaroos and their exports.

Sixteen good and true Australians (in the language of the time)

Petition concerning the slaughter of Kangaroos in Australia to the Honourable, the Secretary General of the United Nations.

To the Honourable members of the General Assembly.

The humble petition of the citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia, where signatures are subscribed here under, humbly sheweth that:

Because of the widespread and indiscriminate shooting for commercial and other purposes, the population of Kangaroos has been reduced to a level where their survival is in jeopardy. The Red Kangaroo, the largest marsupial in existence, and Australia's national emblem, faces extinction.

There are numerous acts of barbaric cruelty associated with the slaughter of Kangaroos.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that:

The United Nations Assembly fully investigates the matter and institute the setting up of an organisation to protect species of wildlife threatened with extinction.

That the United Nations assembly take urgent international measures to stop the slaughter of Kangaroos and it recommended to the Australian government to take immediate action to save surviving Kangaroos.

And your petitioners will ever pray.


  • Federal President of the ALP, Senator Jim Keeffe;
  • Deputy Leader of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party, Mr Lance Bernard;
  • State President of the Victorian ALP Branch, Mr George Crawford,
  • Assistant Secretary Victorian Branch, Mr Glyde Butler,
  • State Secretary of the Victorian Branch of the ALP, Mr Bill Hartley;
  • Senator Bill Brown (Victoria);
  • Mr Jock Nelson, Northern Territory member of the ALP Federal Executive;
  • Mr Tom Burns, State Secretary of the Queensland Branch of the ALP;
  • Mr Joe Chamberlain, State Secretary of the West Australian Branch of the ALP;
  • Mr Peter Westerway, State Secretary of the NSW Branch of the ALP;
  • Mr Kim Beazley, Federal Member for Fremantle;
  • Senator Bob Poke (Tasmania);
  • Mr Geoff Virgo, MLA for Edwardstown, South Australia and Senior Vice President, Federal ALP;
  • Mr M C Young, Federal Secretary and South Australian State Secretary, ALP;
  • Senator Ken Wriedt (Tasmania);
  • Mr Bill Colbourne, New South Wales Member of the Federal Executive.

Petition concerning the slaughter of Kangaroos in Australia

In the Australian Parliament

Minister for Customs and Excise, Senator Murphy, said he placed the welfare of Kangaroos above that of graziers and Kangaroo skin exporters.

“As far as I'm concerned the interests of the Kangaroos are going to come first”.

He told the Senate. He repeated that the total ban on the export of Kangaroo products will continue until the proper programme of conservation and management have been implemented.

“The suggestions that there has been proper control and conservation have been proved to be a lie and nonsense”, Senator Murphy said.
“It is time Australians woke up to the fact that all around the world there is abhorrence over the virtually uncontrolled slaughter of the majority of Kangaroos”.

Senator Murphy was replying to Senator PD Durack, Liberal Western Australia, who asked what progress Senator Murphy was making in reviewing the ban.

It is with great pride and appreciation that we look on the brave and most admirable manner in which Senator Murphy has acted to gain relief from one of the longest periods of most dreadful persecution ever inflicted on a dumb animal in the history of the world. Our deepest gratitude and thanks so expressed to Senator Murphy who would now be recorded as rightfully in the top bracket of Australia's greatest sons in the federal sphere for the responsible action on the part of Senator Murphy and the firm stand he has made in support of his actions the present national administration of Mr Gough Whitlam QC, is commendable.

Back to 1973 and your ABC (in the language of the time)

Clearly little has changed at the ABC when it comes to spinning disinformation in relation to Kangaroos and Wallabies.

Furore over Avoca Wallaby slaughter

On May 20 this year (1973) what has become an annual social event in the form of the public gathering, the brutal massacre of Wallabies in the heavily timbered Fingal Mountains was held.

The actual event was not publicly revealed beforehand and only ‘grapevine’ information was available to the public concerning the football club fund raising carnival. Although protests where held at the Tasmanian Tourist Bureau in both Melbourne and Sydney and widespread letterboxing of boycott leaflets carried out in Adelaide accompanied by a leading article of condemnation of the callous and cruel conduct in the Adelaide Advertiser, reports circulated by the organisers and even broadcast by the ABC, claimed no protest had been made and also killings were supervised.

An attempt was made to challenge the validity of the broadcast by the ABC that the shooting was supervised. A news release issued by Mr Arthur Queripel refuting the supervision claim was not broadcast by the ABC. This led to the matter being referred to the Media Minister, Senator D McClelland with certain allegations as to the reasons for the broadcast and these are now being investigated.

Arthur goes on to say:

“I desire to correct what is alleged to be an untrue statement broadcast by the ABC national news on Sunday 20 May 1973 concerning the Wallaby blood carnival at Avoca, Tasmania. On that day it would be impossible for the RSPCA to fully supervised conduct of the shooters as they would not have sufficient staff in Tasmania to do so and to my knowledge, only one part time inspector usually attends. There is also normally only one permanent police officer at Avoca. The police could not therefore fully supervise the packs of killers. The cruelty involved was diabolical and disgusting, if the Wallabies needed to be controlled, there are much more civilised and painless methods available".

In August 1970, Arthur Queripel objected to the misleading reports on the ABC concerning numbers of Kangaroos and an undertaking was given by the ABC that in future all matters concerning the number of Kangaroos would be proven authentic before being broadcast.

"I do not believe this undertaking is being observed”.

To Arthur Queripel, founder AWPC

“The very difference between our society and the others is that we do not believe in game reserves and we have fought to this end but other groups support this outdoor butchery and personally, too many of them are too much involved in idol worship of academics within their organisations, who they believe are the be all and end all. Well the news of the export ban is welcomed and I feel that the Australian public owes men such as yourself a great deal of thanks, however I'm afraid that the shooters will try to embark on a massive bloodbath and stockpile skins between now and April and we will have to keep a watch on this”. Graham Churchett, Public Officer, Natural History Society of South Australia

A quick look at New South Wales (sounds familiar?)

CSIRO 1968: Numbers of Red Kangaroos have declined, the drought in north-western New South Wales, which became severe by 1965, continued into 1966 and the early part of 1967. The decline in Kangaroo populations, which started in 1965 continued into 1966. In the early part of 1967 the numbers were so low, that in 1967 the population sampling, which had been done regularly at Mount Murchison Station since 1959, had to be suspended. The New South Wales Minister for Lands admitted in writing, that due to severe drought and overshooting, the Kangaroo ‘industry’ had been forced to obtain the New South Wales supplies of Kangaroo carcasses from Queensland and South Australia.

Statements by the Director of the New South Wales Wildlife Service in April 1970, when an alleged mass poisoning of Kangaroos was reported to him, indicated that at the time numbers of Red Kangaroos were very low in the far West of the state. The director also revealed a serious lack of formal protection officers, and the service would send a man into the area next week to fully investigate the report.

In New South Wales there is evidence in abundance to prove that in 1970 the Kangaroo population of the Far West and Lower Darling areas of New South Wales was so low that the recovery in survival of any species was precarious. There has only been a short break in the season towards the end of 1970, it was so short that very little or no impact in the way of relief was possible. The drought was on again in 1971 and it continued on until February 1973. Under such circumstances is it not a fair and reasonable question to ask just where did the alleged plague of Kangaroos in the areas referred to come from? Why was it necessary to open up for the massacring of Kangaroos because of the alleged increase in numbers?

There is not a shadow of doubt to unbiased people, that Kangaroos cannot reach the alleged plague proportions in present day Australia as the propaganda expounded by those desiring to kill them claims.

The new Minister for Customs and Excise and Attorney General, Senator Murphy observed that the ban on Kangaroo exports has not as yet curtailed the ghastly unsupervised and mechanised massacre of Kangaroos

The New South Wales Minister for Lands (Liberal NSW), who also administers the Parks and Wildlife Service, rushes off to America in a panic, returns and threatens wholesale poisoning of Kangaroos. The same gentleman also suddenly became concerned in the feeding of starving people throughout the world, and suggested sending Kangaroo meat to the people of Bangladesh.

As far back as 1958 a number of outstanding public figures began to make a stand against the uncontrolled slaughter of Kangaroos. The concern at that time can be summarised by statement from Ron Strahan, Vice President of the Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales and Director of Taronga Park Zoo in Sydney

"The rights of Kangaroos to exist over large areas of the country and the rights of Australians to see them with relative ease is paramount”.

(2024 - following the government lead, at least some government run zoos in Australia are now purchasing Kangaroo meat from the commercial exploiters of these Australian animals to feed to the animals they hold in captivity).

Back to this century

In the early 2000s the ABC ‘gave me’ (it turned out to be a waste of time as nothing changed and he vanished, not meeting me in Canberra) a ‘manager’ to help improve the ABC’s reporting about Kangaroos across the country, much of it, falsehoods and spin. The reason why we tried to moderate the ABC’s conduct was the awful cruelty the behaviour of at least some journalists were promoting and hence enabling. The Nature Knowledge Channel was established in part to provide journalists with accurate analysis of the situation for Kangaroos in Australia. I suggest you read the story 2024: Commercial exploitation of Kangaroos in Western Australia to understand how deliberate and misleading this reporting can be.

Sounds familiar?

“It is evident that the care, welfare and protection of Victorian native fauna by the Department of Environment and Sustainability (DNRE) has significantly declined over the last 10 years to today, where it is failing to meet its charter and obligations which have been clearly defined in the Flora and Fauna  Guarantee Act 1988. They expect the community, wildlife carers, veterinarians, RSPCA and individuals to administer and manage issues related to the conservation and protection of wildlife in Victoria. They expect them to have the experience, commitment and funds to adequately undertake this work for them. One might ask, what is the current function of the Department of Environment and Sustainability? It appears that they have failed and are failing to initiate and develop a proactive programme to protect the health, welfare and biodiversity of Victorian wildlife.
We propose a complete review of the administration, management and supervision of Victorian wildlife is immediately implemented to address the critical issues currently facing the health, welfare, care and protection of our native fauna”. Dr Ian Gunn, 14 June, 2003

Under Labor an alarming increase in the rate of Victorian Government promoted and enabled wildlife killing  (ATCWs only)


  • In Victoria in the ten-year period 2009-2018 inclusive a total of 32,147 ATCWs were issued for Australian species covering 1,513,605 animals.
  • In Victoria, the total number of animals subject to ATCWs in the period 2016-2018 was 2.3 times higher than the number of animals subject to ATCWs 2009-2011.
  • The number of ATCWs (permits) issued in 2016-2018 was 1.66 times higher than the number of ATCWs issued in the period 2009-2011.
  • Victoria is also not the place to be if you happen to be a bird, 73 per cent of species subject to control in Victoria were bird species with a total of 397,549 birds, of which 182,721 or 45 per cent were from a range of parrot species. We also need to remember that ATCWs are not the only way animals in Victoria die, so we can add another 4.5 million dead water birds and Quail (I am being modest in my calculations) in the last ten years to the tally in Victoria because of duck shooting in the state. So all up, that is around 4.9 million birds in the state in the ten year period.
  • Politics and nature: The Victorian Labor Government was elected in November 2014 and has increased the number of animals killed across a range of mechanisms. The Labor tally in relation to ATCWs in the years 2015 – 2018 totals 16,010 ATCW permits covering 844,625 animals. In the previous four-year period the Liberal- National Coalition Government in Victoria issued 11,146 ATCW permits covering 461,593 animals, 54 per cent of the Labor total.

In relation to authorities to control wildlife the Victorian government continued to claim that it makes every effort to ensure permits were issued for non-lethal control. I have never seen one.

When the Victorian Government was made to publish the data a couple of years ago, it turned out that just 2.6 per cent of all permits issued in 2021 had been issued for non-lethal control. So more misleading and deceptive spin.

And so to 2024

In February 2024 I find myself in the footsteps of Dr Jim Cairns (former deputy PM) in precisely the same venue, the Melbourne Town Hall, and talking about precisely the same topic, Kangaroos.

My talk, If it moves shoot it , Kangaroos in the education state, was on behalf of the Victorian Kangaroo Alliance at the 2024 Animal Rights Forum, held in the Melbourne Town Hall. Jim’s role was to provide a summing up of the event titled Protection of our wildlife. The event was compered by actor and broadcaster, Leonard Teale and chaired by Arthur Queripel and was held in October 1970.

Protection of our wildlife event, Melbourne Town Hall, October 1970

Lower Darling and Broken Hill shooting zones, 2023 (Western NSW)

The 2023, the New South Wales commercial Kangaroo quota report gives the population of Grey and Red Kangaroos in these two shooting zones at 2,965,948 animals. This comprises in the Broken Hill shooting zone of 1,746,169 Red Kangaroos and 211, 832 Grey Kangaroos, with a combined per square kilometer density of 21.5 Kangaroos. For the Lower Darling shooting zone the report claimed a population of 667,099 Red Kangaroos and 340,884 Grey Kangaroos, with a combined per square kilometer density of 17.8 Kangaroos.

We spent 6 days travelling in these two zones, covering about 1,300 kilometers in our search for Kangaroos. One trip involved travelling the Silver City Highway which services mining activities and industrial scale animal production to Broken Hill and beyond. There were no dead Kangaroos, either recent or old, on the highway. We would have expected to see many dead Kangaroos here if the population densities were as stated in the 2023 quota report. Instead there were none.

Other trips involved travel on dirt tracks dissecting these zones east to west. We discovered one dead Kangaroo that had been run over on a dirt track, another Kangaroo on the banks of the Darling River that had been shot.

In six days of searching these shooting zones, given the government’s claims regarding population densities, we had expected to see around 20,000 Kangaroos. At last and towards the end of our time there, we discovered one living Kangaroo.

So, in a region where there is an estimated population of just under 3 million Kangaroos, we counted just one living Kangaroo.