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Question without Notice: Native Wildlife Protection

Mr HIBBINS (Prahran) : My question is to the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change. Minister, one of the reports that came out recently about Crown partnering with junket operators backed by Asia’s organised crime syndicates included evidence that high rollers were hunting and killing wombats in Victoria, which also highlighted that Victoria is the only state where there are areas where wombats are an unprotected species, and where they are protected almost 4000 are being killed per year. What is the minister doing to protect wombats from being shot and killed in Victoria?

Ms D’AMBROSIO (Mill Park—Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Minister for Solar Homes) : I thank the member for Prahran for his question. Like, I think, all Victorians
I was alarmed by the reports and made very clear statements publicly about the alarm that I felt on behalf of Victorians with respect to the allegations that have been ventilated through the media. What I have done as a consequence of that is I have instructed my department to undertake a full investigation into the allegations and reports of what appear to be some very, very disturbing practices that have been ventilated, as I said, in the media. That investigation by my department will be quite extensive and will canvass a number of issues that go to that very question of whether there are other things we can do as a state to ensure that we have sufficient levels of protection for our wonderful native species in this state, and we will certainly have more to say once I receive that full report from my department.

Mr HIBBINS (Prahran) : Minister, if an investigation review is taking place, I assume into both the illegal and legal killing of wombats, will you act now, while the investigation is taking place, to put a halt to any legal wombat killing by declaring wombats a protected species across the entire state and not issue any permits to kill wombats until this investigation is completed?

Ms D’AMBROSIO (Mill Park—Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Minister for Solar Homes) : I thank the member for Prahran for the supplementary question. What I will say is that we will not be—and I will not be—pre-empting any advice to me from the department, but I will remind all members in this house that it is an offence to kill, take, control or harm wildlife, including wombats, under the Wildlife Act 1975 without authorisation. I understand the point that the member is making with respect to authorisations, but again, my department will be undertaking—and is now undertaking—that full investigation, and I am looking forward to receiving their full report and any recommendations that may arise from that