FEDERAL MP Warren Entsch has blasted a Northern Territory Government department for treating turtle and dugong meat “like a snack food”.
Mr Entsch, the Member for Leichhardt in Far North Queensland, has received a copy of an email sent out by the Northern Territory Department of Corporate and Information Services (DCIS) Social Club, encouraging members to attend an inaugural DCIS NAIDOC Week Luncheon tomorrow.
“The invite states that the lunch will consist of a ‘delicious range of traditional home-cooked dishes’ including dugong and turtle, for a gold coin donation,” Mr Entsch said.
“I have no issue with hunting for cultural and traditional purposes but I would argue that when an animal is hunted for these purposes it should be consumed at the location where it was taken and for cultural and traditional purposes only.
“It should not be vacuum-packed and sent around the country so that people can have a taste, and it certainly should not be exchanged for a gold coin donation these are vulnerable species, not commercial species.”
Mr Entsch said the fact that this was being organised by a government department made it even more appalling.
“I think traditional owners would be highly offended at this. Part of the taking of these animals for cultural and traditional purposes is about affording these creatures a level of respect – clearly this is not evident when the meat is packaged and posted to all corners of Australia.”
Mr Entsch said it was time for a total ban on transporting turtle and dugong meat from where the animals were taken, as in his view it was against the spirit and intent of traditional hunting.
“I will also be calling on the Minister for the Environment to act immediately to prohibit the take of turtle and dugong unless it is for traditional and cultural purposes, and on the NT Government to stop this meat being provided at the event.
“They also need to investigate where the meat was sourced from I assume it wouldn’t have been taken traditionally from Marlow’s Lagoon in Palmerston where the event is being held,” Mr Entsch said.
“At the end of the day, how can we stand in an international court and argue against the taking of whales by the Japanese, yet sit back and condone the exploitation and obvious commercial use of vulnerable species such as turtle and dugong?
“It’s total hypocrisy and cannot be allowed to continue,” he ended.