The truth about Cate and Bronte Campbell.

Cate and Bronte Campbell are darlings of Australian sport. The sisters won multiple world and Olympic medals for Australia and endeared themselves to the public with their dedication and wholesome image. Since retiring from the pool, however, they have tarnished their impeccable reputation.

In 2021, Cate and Bronte signed an open letter calling on Australia’s leaders to take bold action on climate change to protect “our Australian way of life, including sport at every level.” The initiative is called The Cool Down and is headed by former Wallabies captain David Pocock. In particular, The Cool Down has backed scientific calls for the country to cut greenhouse gas emissions at least in half by 2030 and reach net zero emissions before 2050.

In a statement during the release of The Cool Down, Bronte said:

“…sport has given me everything I dreamed of and more. And it’s given me a platform. A chance to join my voice with others and advocate for change. Signing up to The Cool Down was a way to say I care, we care, and you should too. We should all care about how we’re treating the planet and how we’re going to fix it. We should all care about emissions, and not just because of the planet. We’re not just fighting for nature, we’re fighting for our way of life. Climate change will impact every aspect of how we live, including how we play sport – the thing that has told so many of us that we are Australian.”

Less than 12 months later, the truth about Cate and Bronte has been revealed. The sisters appear in TV commercials promoting Hancock Prospecting during the Commonwealth Games, where Cate is working as a poolside interviewer. The corporation makes millions of dollars from cattle farming and coal mining and Gina Rinehart is a proud climate change denier.

How can someone support action on climate change and support coal mining?

Hancock Prospecting is not a small player in the mining or agricultural industries. It describes itself as:

“…a diversified company group with interests in iron ore, coal, beef, dairy as well as continuing mineral exploration and development.” Coal mining, beef and diary farming are three of the biggest drivers of climate change. Meanwhile, Hancock Prospecting also owns Queensland Coal Investments, which is currently focused on coal exploration in Queensland, as well as Minerals Australia, which is focused on oil and gas exploration in the Beetaloo Basin, Northern Territory. Critics argue Rinehart’s proposed mine in the Beetaloo could be even more destructive than the infamous Adani mine. Rinehart dominates mining in a country with the highest per capita carbon footprint of any nation on earth.

Were the Campbell sisters aware of this when they agreed to appear in the TV commercials? If so, how were two environmentally-conscious athletes persuaded to appear in the ads?

During their swimming careers, the sisters had no choice. They were obliged to pose for photos alongside Rinehart as the mining magnate has long been a very generous sponsor of Swimming Australia. Furthermore, the swimmers received direct financial support totalling about $32,000 per year as athletes on the top tier of Swimming Australia. Cate acknowledged this support in The Financial Review in 2021.

“I don’t say this lightly, but Gina Rinehart saved swimming. Gina Rinehart stepped in [after sponsors had withdrawn funding in 2012]. She made funds available that went directly to athletes. This allowed many athletes – myself included – to see that there was a future career in swimming for us.”

Very few full-time athletes would reject this amount of financial support, but the Campbell sisters are also environmental advocates – apparently.

As retired athletes Cate and Bronte are now autonomous and free-thinking citizens of Australia able to make entirely independent choices about their career choices and professional partnerships. It appears the champions of Aussie swimming now have a choice to make.

Image: AAP

Australia expecting a flood of medals in Paris 2024.

Australia will be drowning in medals at the 2024 Olympic Games thanks to the support of mining magnate Gina Rinehart.

Rinehart recently announced a sponsorship deal with the Australian Olympic Committee through her company Hancock Prospecting, which will see Australia inundated with Olympic medals and extreme weather events until 2026.

The lucrative deal includes financial support of Australian Olympic teams at the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics, and the Milan-Cortina Winter Olympics in February 2026, as well as the Youth Olympic Games in Gangwon 2024 and in Dakar 2026, plus the Pacific Games in 2023.

“Hancock Prospecting is a great contributor to Australia,” announced a spokesperson for the deal.

“The company has contributed so much to our sporting teams over the years, and has contributed even more to our massive carbon footprint, rising sea levels, rising global temperatures, floods, fires and Australia’s worsening international reputation on climate action. More importantly, the company has contributed millions of dollars to the Institute of Public Affairs, which published a climate change review paper in 2017 that claimed most global heating was natural, a claim which experts rejected as “flawed” and “junk science”.

The spokesperson then explained some of the finer details of the arrangement.

“We must win a lot of medals before 2026, especially at the Winter events, because Ms Rinehart’s mining operations will ensure that there is no snow or ice on which to compete after 2026.”

Hancock Prospecting has a long-standing connection with sports such as swimming and rowing at international level and is credited with helping individual athletes win medals at major championships. Observers had wondered why the company chose to focus on sports such as these, until it was explained that Australia and much of the South Pacific will soon be under water due to fossil fuels, so developing competence in swimming and rowing is logical.

Various organisations have slammed the deal.

Queensland Conservation Council’s director Dave Copeman was “furious” at the decision, and was quoted as saying:

“There’s a real question of how much does a couple of big cheques to Swimming Australia and the AOC buy you out of a history of environmental devastation.”

“How the hell did they do this? What are they thinking?”

Supporters of the deal rejected such criticism.

“Look, it’s simple. Sport is a business. Medals cost money. If you want Aussies to win medals you have to put up with bushfires, floods, food shortages, crop failures, air pollution, disruption, climate refugees and more extreme weather events.”

“A lifetime occupying an unlivable planet is nothing compared to five minutes of patriotic fervour.”

How to solve Australia’s teacher shortage.

Australian schools face an unprecedented teacher shortage and myriad solutions have been proposed to find more teachers. None of them will work.

None of the proposed solutions will succeed unless one simple action is taken.

Primary and secondary schools are struggling to find teachers to deliver lessons to students throughout the country, and students are missing out on an education that was already truncated due to COIVD-19 lockdowns. Many schools cannot even find casual teachers let alone permanent teachers to deliver lessons. According to a recent article by Ruby Cornish from the ABC:

To date, teachers have taken more than 350,000 days of sick leave — up from 215,000 days during the same period in 2020, according to the education department. 

And in the words of NSW Teachers Federation President Angelo Gavrielatos:

We are losing teachers every single day. Every single day hundreds of classes are being interrupted.

Politicians have proposed myriad solutions:

Subsidised housing

Subsidised housing would allow teachers to live close to their school if it is in an affluent area. Yes, even teachers of rich kids are underpaid. Currently, teachers of schools in affluent areas must pay an enormous portion of their income to live close to school, or face a long commute to live somewhere affordable.

University students

2,600 final year education students have been given permission to work as casual teachers in NSW schools, despite not being formally qualified. Some of them are excellent, some are not. Teaching is one career in which years of experience make an enormous difference to performance. The scheme helps student teachers, who can start paying off their uni fees, but does it help the students?

Is this legal?

When student teachers do practicums (prac) they are not allowed to teach a class of students without a fully-qualified teacher being present for legal reasons. Has the law been changed?

Corporate staff

Non-qualified teachers have been accredited to teach. Accreditation is normally only given to fully-qualified teachers with legitimate degrees and only after they have submitted notarised qualifications, plus Working With Children Check and other documents, to the relevant authorities. Now, corporate staff are being accredited despite having no qualifications or experience. It doesn’t help students, and it dismisses the years of valuable experience of existing teachers.

FIFO Teachers

New South Wales proposed flying teachers from cities out to regional and remote areas where the shortage is felt most acutely. The government would cover the cost of flights, and pay the teachers for their work. The duration of the contract was not specified, but Gavrielatos quickly exposed numerous flaws in this opportunistic political announcement:

Well, where are they going to find the teachers from? What schools, from what cities? We have a shortage.

Also, where are these FIFO teachers currently living? They’re likely to be renting, and would have to pay dead rent while teaching in the remote location. They would expect accommodation to be provided to compensate for the dead rent, so the government would have to cover flights and accommodation. Also, casual teachers in urban areas are likely to be working already, because there’s a huge teacher shortage, so would give up work at existing schools to go bush – and they would expect to be paid a lot more than they earn at urban schools. This costs the government even more money.

Victoria is apparently offering Melbourne-based teachers up to $700 a day to teach in regional schools. The incentive applies to teachers relocating from metro areas, interstate, or overseas who work in a regional role for at least two weeks. Other financial incentives are also involved.

However, it doesn’t appear to cover accommodation.

What’s harder than finding teachers? Finding and affording rental properties in major cities. If teachers leave their current rental to take up this offer for say 1 term, they then have to find, and afford, a new rental back in the city.

Loophole?

There is a potential loophole in Victoria’s plan. A current teacher in a regional school could quit their job upon learning of this plan. They could then re-apply for exactly the same job and earn $700 a day instead of about 350 – 400 a day. If they’re prevented from doing this due to technicalities, they’re likely to be upset that they are earning less than casuals despite committing, sticking around and devoting themselves to the students despite all of the disruptions and challenges at their school. There’s a reason these schools are understaffed.

Where is the reward for staying committed to the profession and to regional students?

Retired teachers

Retired teachers have answered the call of desperate schools. If retired teachers are happy to go back into the classroom, that’s great. They would also be prime candidates for FIFO teaching. However, haven’t they already done enough? Haven’t they earned a rest?

Career change

Governments are also attempting to lure professionals from other careers into teaching. Prior learning credit would be given to professionals who would be accelerated through a teaching degree. They might come, but will they stay?

Free University

High achieving secondary students are also being lured to teaching. Governments are offering to pay some or all of the students’ university fees to entice them away from other professions. This will attract some students. However, it exposes one fundamental flaw of all of the aforementioned proposals: teacher retention.

Teachers are leaving the profession because of poor conditions. What are those conditions? They are far too many to list here. Bright students might be attracted to teaching with free university study, but will they stay if conditions are so bad? These students are bright enough to succeed in another career, and bright enough to know that.

All of these methods have been suggested because schools are so desperate for teachers and/or because a politician thinks it will help them win the next election.

What do all of these suggestions have in common?

They all cost money.

And therein lies the solution to the teacher shortage.

Pay teachers more.

Higher wages will bring teaching into line with other professions.

Higher wages will convince some teachers to stay in the profession. Poor conditions also need to be improved, but many teachers will put up with these conditions for lucrative salaries. Doctors, engineers, lawyers and architects don’t love every aspect of their jobs. Dentists even more so.

Australia is a capitalist society. Young people make career choice based on salary, and society makes assumptions about careers based on salaries. Low pay is one reason Australians don’t respect teaching or teachers, and this in turn causes some of the terrible conditions under which teachers work.

Teaching is a job. It is a vocation, a profession, a craft and a passion. It is also how teachers pay the rent and support their own families, and cover the costs of their daily lives. With the increased cost of living in Australia, the first step to attracting and retaining capable people to the profession is to pay teachers more.

Image: Element5Digital

The leftist agenda in the Australian school system.

A leftist agenda is taking over the Australian school system and conservatives blame it for declining educational standards and many of the nation’s problems.

Is the claim true?

If so, can the leftist agenda be removed?

There is some truth to the statement. Classroom discussions and activities in Australian secondary schools are more likely to favour a left wing world view and the teachers delivering those lessons are also more likely to hold a left wing world view.

Language and Humanities subjects (and even the all encompassing subject of PD/H/PE) contain modules which conservatives would consider left wing, and it is certainly difficult for a student to defend a right wing world view in the classroom, or in a written task, when discussing a social issue.

One specific issue is Transgender people in women’s sport. Arguments exist on both sides of this issue, but it would be very difficult for an Australian student in English, History or PD/H/PE to argue that Transgender people should be banned from women’s sport, despite the fact that students are taught to express (almost) any viewpoint as long as they support the viewpoint with legitimate evidence.

How am I qualified to comment on this issue? I’m a teacher of English and History with many years experience in the Australian school system. Subjects such as English and History invite discussions on social issues and History is famously contentious.

Who makes these claims?

Conservative politicians, conservative media commentators, some academics and, according to an ABC article, One Nation voters.

According to the ABC article:

“One Nation voters are turning on the mainstream education system as conservatives across the country express a deep mistrust of what they say is a “leftist agenda” taking over the classroom.”

Why the ABC devoted an entire article to the thoughts of One Nation voters is probably a more appropriate subject of investigation. One Nation voters, however, are not the only critics of Australian schools and teachers.

One legitimate critic is education expert and former English teacher Kevin Donnelly who points to a “march of the left through the institutions”. His book, “How Political Correctness Is Destroying Australia — Enemies Within and Without” was launched by Tony Abbott and Alan Jones, and includes chapters such as “Thought police screening schoolbooks” and “Culture wars: the left’s university loonies”.

Seemingly extreme, but his classroom experience does add some legitimacy to the claims. On the other hand, the statement makes a number of broad assumptions.

Firstly, it assumes that teenagers listen to teachers long enough to be influenced.

Secondly, it implies that Australia as a nation is moving to the left. This position is difficult to sustain. The Liberal National Party ruled for nine years and became more conservative and right wing under Scott Morrison, and don’t appear to have changed under the leadership of Peter Dutton. Furthermore, that same government oversaw policies which were extremely ‘right wing’ in regards to issues such as the environment, immigration, gender equality and treatment of workers. Even the allocation of educational funding was anything but left wing – stripping funding from public universities and awarding millions of dollars to private schools while public schools remain underfunded. Australians voted them back into power in 2019.

If Australia is as ‘left wing’ as critics claim, why is the country planning to open new coal mines?

Why were we forced into a ‘gas-led recovery’ and why do fossil fuel corporations continue to be subsidised by the government? This would never happen in a country with a ‘leftist agenda’.

In addition, the claim ignores another vital fact. School curricula are created by governments. Education departments, politicians and bureaucrats combine to create the content of school subjects. Teachers deliver the subjects. History is extremely political. A teacher’s natural bias can never be removed from a subject, but as Queensland Teachers Union president Kevin Bates reminds us:

“I think that unfortunately what’s happened in terms of the commentariat is these throwaway lines about the left being dominant in education etcetera — it’s nonsensical,” he said.

“The national curriculum is determined as a collective effort from education ministers, from all the states and territories and the Federal Government.”

Even if it is true that Australian schools carry a leftist agenda, can this be changed?

Yes, it can.

The solution is to increase teacher’s salaries.

Teachers salaries in Australia are famously low compared to other professions. So low in fact that many Australians probably don’t consider teaching a profession, certainly not on par with medicine, law, engineering or architecture.

Low wages mean people enter teaching for altruistic reasons. People who are motivated by altruism are more likely to be open minded and tolerant, to believe in the greater good, to want to contribute to society, to defend the natural environment, the oppressed and the marginalised – characteristics which define a person as left wing.

If anyone enters teaching for the money, they’re in for a rude shock.

Therein lies the solution: pay teachers more.

Raise the standard salary of every school teacher in Australia. This must be done at government level. The LNP could have done it during the nine years they spent in power until the recent federal election. They didn’t. Ironically, the same conservatives who bemoan the leftist agenda in Australian schools could have done something about it. They didn’t.

Raising teachers salaries, substantially and in real terms, will attract young people more motivated by money than pure altruism. It will attract people who prioritise the lifestyle afforded to them by a lucrative salary. These people, motivated more by more than altruism, are more likely to be individualistic, conservative and ‘right wing’.

More ‘right wing’ teachers would offset the influence of ‘left wing’ teachers in Australian schools as they deliver the mandated school curriculum, and restore the perceived imbalance. Conservatives, especially politicians, should stop whinging about a ‘leftist agenda’ and address the issue by raising Australian teachers’ salaries.

Image: Element5Digital

Scott Morrison finally gets what he wants.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has finally been accepted as a real tradie after being exposed in a segment on A Current Affair.

Morrison was left floundering during an interview with host Tracey Grimshaw on a program which devotes itself to exposing dodgy tradies, repairmen and other occupations that Scott has imitated since becoming prime minister.

Viewers of A Current Affair watched Morrison suffer a ‘brutal takedown’ during the interview with Grimshaw, which aired on a channel which has been very sympathetic to the prime minister since he came to power. It came about the same time that Morrison rudely dismissed a journalist’s question as to why he has not appeared on NITV, the national Indigenous network, during the election campaign.

A Current Affair follows the formula of any modern commercial current affairs program. It runs countless stories exposing small-time cheats and scammers such as dodgy tradies, fridge repairmen, loan sharks, lawyers or small businesses, instead of pursuing big time cheaters such as political doners or the politicians themselves. It goes after very easy targets. If it does run stories on politicians, it is likely to be an ‘expose’ of a local council’s failure to repair a few potholes.

A Current Affair is nowhere near ‘investigative journalism’, and yet Morrison couldn’t even survive an interview on a show of this nature.

Ironically, Morrison has now been reduced to the status of the people he has been imitating in endless photo opportunities since coming to power. He has pretended to weld, drive trucks, use military hardware, bake, pour beer, build a cubbyhouse, run water for a football team and even wash a woman’s hair in a salon.

If only A Current Affair and its counterparts would run a story exposing his failure to be prime minister.

Image: Getty Images

Was it ScoMo or Hanson?

Who is responsible, Scott Morrison or Pauline Hanson?

Which of these Australian politicians is responsible for the destruction of yet more Australian wildlife?

Morrison and Hanson both handled wombats in recent years and now a large proportion of the nation’s wombats suffer from mange. Coincidence?

Mange is one of the biggest killers of wombats. The mange mite buries itself under the wombat’s skin triggering extreme itchiness which makes the wombat scratch, causing open wounds and scabs to form.  These become infected, the wombat loses condition, becomes dehydrated, malnourished and slowly dies. The good news is, it can be treated.

The Wombat Protection Society of Australia is working to eliminate that threat. WPSA is a national non-profit organisation created to raise awareness and money in order to provide wombats with immediate protection from harm. WPSA enhances quality of life, funds projects that develop and protect suitable habitat, and provides sanctuaries for Australian wombats.

Mange is considered to be the major health issue impacting wombat welfare. It is caused by the parasitic mite sarcoptes scabiei, and the society has brought attention and action to this issue by encouraging and supporting research and collaboration in the treatment and prevention of mange in both free living and in-care wombats.

Wombat conservation occurs throughout Australia but is carried out almost exclusively by volunteers. Very little government funding is provided to wombat protection groups, and Morrison and Hanson could change this; Morrison especially. Instead, both politicians exploited wombats for photo opportunities instead of substantially increasing funding for their protection.

The One Nation leader posed for a bizarre photo with a distressed wombat while campaigning. She straddled it before appearing to knee it in the back in a move that’s not even legal in the NRL or Super Rugby. That wombat is likely to be suffering a lot more than mange.

Morrison appears extremely uncomfortable handling the wombat during his photo opp, but one can’t expect a man to offer empathy to an animal if he can’t even offer it to humans.

Morrison and Hanson attract an equal amount of suspicion. Both are populist leaders more capable of slogans and photo opportunities than actual policy formation or genuine action. Both utilise racism and the gullibility of semi-literate Australians to maintain their power, and both have a terrible track record on issues of environmental sustainability during their terms.

So who gave the mange to Australia’s lovable native animals?

Was it Scott Morrison or Pauline Hanson?

Images: AAP, ABC

Our Tremendous Eastern Representative.

Dave Sharma is our tremendous eastern representative, but how well do we really know him?

We recently discovered that he achieved truly enviable results in his HSC, but that was more than 25 years ago, and Dave’s kids are now closer to their HSC exams than he is. Boasting about a score of 100% is fine for about 6 months after year 12, but doing so in 2022 seems like a tawdry egotistical reminder.

To all of you kiddies out there who have no idea what this article is about, TER stands for Tertiary Entrance Rank, and this term was used in NSW instead of ‘ATAR’ in the olden days.

Dave’s exultation arrived in our letterboxes inside his teal emulating resume, which was strangely devoid of the Liberal party logo. Why did he choose to omit the logo?

Is it because of his party’s targeted electoral rorting?

Perhaps Dave is distancing himself from the Coalition’s total environmental ruin. He wants you to forget his fearless leader’s love affair with coal and the party’s determination to run coal-fired power stations for as long as possible. He wants you to forget the treeless earth rampage that earned Gladys the nickname Koala Killer, and to ignore his government’s ruling to remove project-specific approval under national environmental laws, which helps explain why Australia has the most inadequate climate policy among developed countries.

Official records indicate that our Dave and his colleagues also voted against efforts to reverse the terrible extinction rates of Australia’s native plants and animals.

Perhaps Turramurra’s excellent ring-in also wants you to forget his party’s plan for a toxic economic recovery from COVID-19, and the fact that he toed the party line on transferring entrapped refugees to the mainland for medical treatment.

The Liberal National Party has also been criticised for its treatment of Australian women. It has been suggested that some elements in the party have been tirelessly erasing rape incidents in parliament house from the minds of everyday Aussies, and that his own fearless leader reminded protesting women that they should be grateful they weren’t shot.

But let’s not be too harsh on our Dave. His tender, enduring respect for women was on full display at Bondi Junction station on International Women’s Day, but, alas, the tragically erroneous romantic was unfairly attacked for handing out tokenism epitomising roses. Poor Dave.

Dave was also there, alongside his LNP colleagues, when they formulated policies on funding cuts that made an Aussie tertiary education redundant, and he comprised the team which allocated peanuts to thespians, entertainers and roadies during the COVID-19 pandemic.

There’s no better time than now to pay tribute to our tremendous eastern representative.

Image: Citizen’s Climate Lobby Australia

First published, in part, in The Beast magazine, April 2022.

AGL welcomes everyone…

Australian energy company AGL invites everyone…to suffer.

AGL is Australia’s biggest polluter but has also won awards for diversity inclusion, indicating that it welcomes everyone to suffer from the effects of climate change.

The company was recently awarded Gold Employer status for LGBTQ+ inclusion at the AWEI Awards, while simultaneously earning the title of Australia’s biggest domestic contributor to climate change by Greenpeace. Greenpeace argues that AGL emitted 42.2 million tonnes of carbon emissions in 2019-2020. Greenpeace data confirms that the energy company creates,

“…24.6% of electricity sector emissions and 8% of Australia’s total emissions, which primarily comes from the coal burned at the energy giant’s three coal-burning power stations: Liddell, Bayswater, and Loy Yang A. AGL’s own data confirms that 85% of energy generated by the gentailer comes from burning coal.”

At the same time, AGL boasts publicly that:

“This is the third year we have been awarded Gold Employer status, and the fifth year that we have participated in the AWEI. Our employee-driven LGBTQ+ network, AGL Shine, was created in 2014. The network focuses on providing a safe and inclusive environment for all our employees – while also advocating internally and externally for gender inclusion beyond the heteronormative binary.”

Creating a safe space for LGBTQIA+ people in encouraging, but let’s not beat around the bush. How hard is it to be inclusive in 2022?

Encouraging diversity essentially means treating everyone equally.

How hard is that?

Even if AGL does genuinely support LGBTQIA+ people in the workplace, what exactly does this entail?

It involves affirming the Darlington Statement which articulates the human rights demands of people with intersex variations. A statement written by someone else.

Does it involve paying a diversity trainer or consultant to conduct training sessions on diversity with employees, or hosting social days to celebrate diversity?

Does it involve allowing all staff to choose their own pronouns, and updating HR documents, or posting the rainbow motif on all social media platforms?

It might even include sponsoring a float in Mardi Gras, targeted employment or other active steps. They might even make a difference to the lives of employees.

Remember, however, that government schools throughout Australia are just as inclusive as AGL, but they don’t win awards. They also do so with a fraction of the money available to AGL. They do it with underpaid, overworked, undervalued teachers.

Did AGL win an award because it operates within the resource sector, and is the resource sector full of bigots?

Either way, winning an award for diversity inclusion does not change the fact that AGL is still Australia’s biggest polluter. It does not change the fact that:

Lesbians will suffer from climate change

Gay people will suffer from climate change

Bisexual people will suffer from climate change

Trans people will suffer from climate change

Queer people will suffer from climate change

Intersexed people will suffer from climate change

Asexual people will suffer from climate change

That’s not all.

Males will suffer from climate change

Females will suffer from climate change

Men will suffer from climate change

Women will suffer from climate change

Non binary people will suffer from climate change

Gender neutral/Androgynous people will suffer from climate change

Gender fluid people will suffer from climate change

Agender people will suffer from climate change

Cisgender people will suffer from climate change

Demigender people will suffer from climate change

Gender questioning people will suffer from climate change

Genderqueer people will suffer from climate change

Intergender people will suffer from climate change

Multi-gender, bigender and trigender people will suffer from climate change

Pangender will suffer from climate change

Bois, Tomboys will suffer from climate change

Butch/masc people will suffer from climate change

Femme people will suffer from climate change

Gender noncomforming will suffer from climate change

To the LGBTQIA+ community, don’t be fooled by AGL’s slick marketing campaign. You will suffer the effects of climate change.

To the LGBTQIA+ community, don’t let AGL exploit you to distract Australians from their climate destruction.

The cats eating Australia.

Cats are eating Australia alive. Cats kill millions of native animals every year and one region has introduced a plan that may well save many adorable Aussie animals from death or extinction.

Cats are estimated to kill about 1.5 billion native animals per annum in Australia. This destruction is the work of domestic cats, stray cats and feral cats. All of these cats are derived from pet cats, as feline species have never been native to Australia.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 1994 only 26% of domestic cats were confined both during the day and night. This means 74% of cats where roaming happily, hunting and destroying native wildlife. In the same year, 42,126 cats were dumped on the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA). Only 3% of the cats were reclaimed and 74% were put down.

Feral cats threaten at least 124 Australian species which are in danger of extinction, and cats are a major reason that Australia has the highest rate of native mammal extinction in the world – not per capita – outright.

Chantel Benbow is an ecologist, and some would say a hypocrite. She owns a cat and lets it roam free at night around the streets of inner Sydney. Her cat does wear a bib developed by Murdoch University, and utilised widely in the Eurobodalla Council region on the NSW far south coast. The bib claims to distract the cat from the prey, and to stop 81 per cent of cats from catching birds, 45 per cent of cats from catching mammals, and 33 per cent of cats from catching lizards and amphibians.

Not 100%.

That said, Benbow still advises:

“If you want to have a pet cat, keep it indoors because they are hunters. They are beautiful, they are cute and fluffy but they will kill something.”

This is why the Australian Capital Territory has introduced a policy that could save thousands of native Australian animals.

The policy requires all new pet cats obtained after July 1, 2022 to be contained indoors or in a cat run. It does, however, allow cats acquired before July 1, 2022 to roam free if their owners do not live in a new Canberra suburb. These cats can happily kill native wildlife every day and night. It’s not perfect, but it’s a start.

Another law change allows cat owners to walk their cat on a lead, which is actually prohibited, not just odd. This applies to 17 designated cat containment suburbs in the territory. Cats will also have to be registered, just like dogs, under the new law.

The maximum penalty for breaching the law is $1,600.

Politicians announcing the new law boasted that the ACT is a leader in cat containment.

“The ACT government wants to minimise the impacts of domestic cats on native wildlife by reducing the number of feral, unowned and semi-owned cats through more de-sexing, improved domestic cat welfare and management practices, better ways to identify lost cats and reunite them with their owners,” Minister for the Environment Rebecca Vassarotti said.

“Every year, free-roaming but owned Canberra cats are estimated to prey on 61,000 native birds, 2,000 native mammals, 30,000 native reptiles and 6,000 native frogs.

The ACT is not the first region to introduce some form of ban on pet cats in order to save Australia’s wildlife.

The municipality of Knox in Victoria has introduced a 24-hour cat curfew on all domestic cats to come into effect on October 1, 2021. Cats must be confined to their owner’s property at all times and the new law was established for one primary reason; to protect native wildlife.

Owners face fines for failure to comply, and the rationale for the law also sites general nuisance and safety for cats. However, it is not difficult to read between the lines of the government document and determine the primary motivation for the move.

The council in Melbourne states that there are “…currently over 6,500 cats registered with Council.” Even if each cat kills only one native animal per day, that municipality will lose 6,500 native animals every day. In the space of a year…

The law should have been introduced long ago. It should be nationwide policy.

The municipality of Knox trialled the curfew in 2020 and more than 86% of residents are said to have supported the continuation of the program, including cat owners themselves.

Opponents or critics of the curfew might also argue that it is not necessary because they put a bell on their cat’s collar to alert wildlife. Their cats then roam guilt-free. Blue Mountains City Council, which administers a large area surrounded by national park, claims:

“Bells on collars don’t always work. Cats with bells can learn to stalk prey silently,” and

“…native animals don’t associate the sound of bells with danger.”

Other Australian communities have also introduce such a ban. Mount Barker near Adelaide implemented a similar law in 2019. The law proposed penalties for cats found roaming freely between 8pm and 7am, and a limit of two cats per property. The community lobbied for the law after becoming sick of domestic cats defecating on people’s properties, fighting in gardens and killing wildlife.

Similar laws aimed at protecting wildlife have also been trialled or implemented in Gawler, Adelaide Hills, Marion and Campbelltown in South Australia. The law in Gawler included a provision to ‘seize, detain and destroy’ any cat caught roaming within its boundaries if the animal isn’t claimed by its owner within three days.

Various forms of cat curfews are also being considered in locations such as Yarra Range Council in Victoria and Wollondilly Council in Sydney. Interestingly, a councillor from Wollondilly Council, Simon Landow, was quoted as saying that the plan had been met with great support, but that the rules had no teeth unless the state government enacted similar legislation.

Mount Barker, Knox and many of the regions mentioned above feature residential areas which adjoin an area of bushland or open space, where native wildlife can still be found. If that wildlife is to survive, a cat curfew must be implemented across the nation.

Image: david_g_bevan_writer