FRUIT BATS

The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS(16:36:47): I seek leave to give a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation questions regarding fruit bat migration.

Leave granted.

The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS: Recently a number of Adelaide Hills fruit growers have raised concerns with the member for Morialta in another place about the growing number of fruit bats in the Greater Adelaide area and the potential impact this may have on the horticulture industry and the environment as a whole. My questions are:

1.Is the Minister aware of concerns raised by Adelaide Hills fruit growers regarding fruit bats?

2.What role, if any, has the minister's department had in the establishment or fostering of fruit bat colonies in the Adelaide region?

3.Is the minister's department monitoring the numbers of fruit bats that are in South Australia and, if so, will the minister advise the council of any significant trends developing from these figures and the particular situation regarding the Adelaide Hills horticultural area?

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER(Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation)(16:38:01): I thank the honourable member for his most important question on fruit bats. I understand that this is probably a matter largely dealt with by another minister, and those sections of his question that relate to PIRSA, for example, I will take to the minister in the other place and seek a response. I can say in general that this is not an isolated example relating just to fruit bats. It happens with other species of animals that interact with human communities, be they agricultural or residential, urban—

An honourable member interjecting:

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER: Indeed, there may well be aquaculture interactions which, again, possibly are not my area of responsibility. For instance we have had reports recently about little corellas and the problems that they cause. The general response from my department, which I certainly support, is that as a government and as a community we should be looking first to actually live with nature and not try and control it in ways that we have been trying to do in the past which have led to all sorts of problems in terms of disrupting the local ecologies.

I do understand that from time to time there are large increases in flocks of corellas or fruit bats and they do create quite a bit of economic damage in relation to certain crops, particularly for orchardists in the Adelaide Hills and, indeed, even for the Botanic Gardens, for which I am also responsible. But in the first instance our response should be to try to understand the ecological dynamics of the population and work out how we are going to try and mitigate those effects as best as we can without causing any grief or damage. But, as I said, I understand portfolio responsibility for this issue probably lies in another place. I will bring a response back for the honourable member.