Fitzgibbon seeks Senate inquiry into our bat problem

Federal member for Hunter Joel Fitzgibbon pushes for a Senate inquiry into the region's bat problems.

Speaking in Parliament yesterday Mr Fitzgibbon announced his intentions to ask the Senate to initiate an inquiry into the flying fox problems that exist in Singleton, Cessnock and other communities in the Hunter and other towns throughout the State.

“I’ve spoken to the Chair of the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Committee and he advises he would welcome the reference,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.

“I will now work with the Minister for the Environment, the Shadow Minister and other interested parties to develop appropriate terms of reference.

“I also told the House of Representatives that as part of an inquiry, I want the Committee to travel to Hunter to see firsthand the effect of the bat problem.”

Mr Fitzgibbon was one of the speakers at last weekend’s rally in Singleton which called for immediate action to rid the town’s iconic Burdekin Park of bats.

The colony has been in the park for 16 years and despite many efforts to relocate the colony the park was closed earlier this month as it had become too unsafe to enter.

Bat numbers had increased during summer and were overburdening the trees resulting in branches breaking and falling onto the ground.

Mr Fitzgiboon said the Terms of Reference for an inquiry would need to acknowledge and respect the endangered species status of the bats and their contribution to the maintenance of our biodiversity.

He added Senators could learn much from the scientists and regulators during hearings in Parliament House but they’ll need to visit affected communities to fully appreciate the other side of the equation.

“Surely in this 21st Century we have the wit to both protect our biodiversity while also protecting our local communities,” he said.

“I’m hopeful a Senate inquiry can show us the way.”

SPEAKING OUT: Joel Fitzgibbon speaking at the rally in Singleton on Sunday to 'Give us Our Back Park'.

SPEAKING OUT: Joel Fitzgibbon speaking at the rally in Singleton on Sunday to 'Give us Our Back Park'.