Nationals candidate for Page Kevin Hogan (left) with Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker, who launched a bat petition supporting the removal of the Maclean bats.
Nationals candidate for Page Kevin Hogan (left) with Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker, who launched a bat petition supporting the removal of the Maclean bats.

War of words as MPs target bats

FEDERAL Cowper MP Luke Hartsuyker had more than flying foxes in his sights at Maclean yesterday.

The MP wants a flying fox colony removed from near Maclean High School and is intent on seeking a solution in Federal Parliament.

Yesterday he slammed the Maclean Flying Fox Working Group as a ‘bureaucratic con’. He described Federal Page MP Janelle Saffin as a fence-sitter who had not been genuine with the high school’s P&C committee.

Mr Hartsuyker went on the attack at the launch of his petition supporting the removal of the Maclean bats.

Mr Hartsuyker told a small group of media and residents outside the Maclean High School gates that a private member’s bill was being drafted. If passed it would provide emergency powers to the Federal Minister of the Environment for the removal of the bats because they posed a public health risk.

“This petition will send a clear message to the Minister and will provide the Clarence Valley with a voice,” Mr Hartsuyker said.

“It is outrageous that our school students are exposed to diseases of the third world. Co-existence is not working, disperse the bats now.”

He said the working group had made it clear from the first meeting that they would not support a licence application to remove the bats. They were more interested in the health of the bats than the health of people.

“There has been no positive outcome from the working group,” Mr Hartsuyker said.

Ms Saffin said that although Maclean High School was outside her electorate, she had been approached by the school community to find a solution to the bat problem.

“When the school wanted to look into measures for co-location I supported them in that process and encouraged the (Maclean High School) P & C to stay on the working party,” Ms Saffin said.

“I have advised the school to go back to the original process that they used in the past of applying for the State permit to disperse the bats.

“This process became complicated when the council and school put in a joint application which triggered new requirements at the State and Federal level.

“However, I understand that if the school goes back to the original process, with the guidance of an environmental consultant, they could put in for the State licence and there is a good chance the problem could soon be resolved.

“I offered this advice as far back as 2008,” she said

“I have never said that I think the school should be moved. However, I think the proposal put forward by local resident Deb Novak to relocate the school is one possibility that could be worth looking at as a longer-term solution.”



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