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Hopping mad: Roo doco ‘propaganda’

Wednesday, 14th March, 2018

Kangaroos are in the news after a controversial documentary ‘Kangaroo: A love-hate story’ claimed the animals were in danger of extinction. PICTURE: Patrick Martin Kangaroos are in the news after a controversial documentary ‘Kangaroo: A love-hate story’ claimed the animals were in danger of extinction. PICTURE: Patrick Martin

By Myles Burt

A new documentary that claims kangaroos are being driven to extinction has drawn the ire of ‘roo shooters and politicians alike.

The film, ‘Kangaroo: A love-hate story’, implies kangaroos as becoming an endangered species but local kangaroo harvester, Robert Kemp, a long time professional shooter, says it falsifies facts and contains nothing but bias.

“They don’t give a sh*t about the kangaroo itself,” Mr Kemp said. “It’s the industry they’re trying to stop.

“They’re trying to save the kangaroo? There’s a population explosion, there are droughts coming on, there are hundreds of thousands dying of starvation.”

Mr Kemp said the population boom across the Far West has led some graziers to   employ unlicensed shooters to cull numbers and relieve grazing pressures on livestock. 

Unprofessional standards in kangaroo harvesting by shooters using inappropriate firearms and body shots have resulted in fewer licensed shooters in the industry, according to Mr Kemp.

“Since the numbers have dropped dramatically, due to less than 300 (shooters) at the present time, it’s opened the doors to these sporting shooters and so-called pig shooters.”

Mr Kemp said that the kangaroo population had fallen in the Far West by three million over the past year due to die off, drought and illegal culling. 

He said the harvesting industry is getting the blame for the actions of unlicensed shooters after Greens senator Lee Rhiannon stated 650,000 kangaroos had been “body shot” compared to a commercial take of 385,000 last year by professional shooters.

“Not by the commercial industry, certainly, because there wasn’t even that many kangaroos shot.

“It’s a commercial industry that’s far more humane and cares far more about the kangaroo than any of this Greens’ rubbish.”

Mr Kemp said there was now more road kill on main outback highways and does were having to abandon their joeys due to the drought and overpopulation.

“Probably 150 joeys have been abandoned by their does due to dry conditions,” he said.

“They need to come out and have a look.”

MP for Parkes, Mark Coulton, said he hadn’t seen the film but criticised Greens senator Lee Rhiannon for travelling to Europe to promote it.

“I think it’s highly irresponsible, ignorant of the facts of what’s happening in Australia, particularly my electorate,” he said.

Mr Coulton said the overpopulation of kangaroos provided opportunity for employment in a sustainable industry, and relieved grazing pressure on livestock. 

Australia’s promotion of kangaroo in foreign markets had huge potential but could be jeopardised by the film and Senator Rhiannon’s actions, he said.

“Senator Rhiannon’s already been to California and got an embargo on kangaroo products into California.”

Kangaroo leather is used in athletic footwear by major shoe brands like Nike and Reebok, and an embargo would be a major setback, Mr Coulton said.

“If they can’t be sold in California, then there’s a huge potential market that we’re excluded from.”

Mr Coulton said that Indigenous Affairs Minister, Nigel Scullion, was very interested in working on an alternative film about the industry’s sustainability and how important it was to Aboriginal people.

“Because largely across Australia they’re the ones involved in the industry, whether it’s the shooting or in the processing plant.

“If it gets shut down they’ll be impacted the most, probably more than anyone else.”

Mr Coulton said the documentary was pure propaganda and that Senator Rhiannon had no intention of presenting the facts about the kangaroo industry.

“In Australia we’ve got double the amount of kangaroos to human beings, and for them to be portraying that as some sort of endangered species shows complete ignorance.

“I do 80,000kms a year and I can tell you there’s no shortage of kangaroos anywhere in my electorate, least of all in the western part.”

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