A NATIONAL emblem can also help fight unemployment, writes DAVID O'BRIEN
Last week I raised a matter in State Parliament about which I have been asked repeatedly in my travels through western Victoria.
It is that kangaroo meat cannot be legally processed in Victoria, despite this being legal in four other mainland states.
Kangaroo meat is high in protein and low in fat.
It is considered a delicacy in many restaurants and available in supermarkets.
Kangaroo meat has been exported since 1959 and is now exported to more than 50 countries.
Carefully managed culls already take place across Victoria to support a sustainable kangaroo population.
What rural people are saying to me is that it would be logical for the cull to provide the meat for processing for human consumption or pet meat.
Rather than "farming" kangaroos for industry, what is proposed is a niche industry making use of carcasses that are presently left to rot and attract feral animals.
A chef in Avoca last week expressed his frustration to me that the kangaroo meat served in his pub was sourced from interstate. A processor in Hamilton, with kangaroo meat facilities in another state, is willing and ready to take on the work if permitted.
In addition, we have licensed and accredited shooters to deliver the product.
Opponents of the industry argue that there is insufficient density of kangaroos in Victoria and that there are health risks.
I say that the viability of the industry would not be for governments to determine and government's business lies in creating the conditions for industries to grow.
If a dozen jobs can be created in Victoria in this way, the effort will have been worthwhile.
I note that despite average culls in excess of two million animals a year in Australia, the kangaroo population has consistently increased.
I acknowledge that this is a sensitive environmental issue and also a social issue due to the status of kangaroos as one of Australia's national emblems.
The time has come to weigh the case for kangaroo meat processing again, and I strongly believe that this represents an opportunity for new industry in our state.
- David O'Brien is the Nationals MP for western Victoria