In the dying days of the Queensland election, the issue of damage to commercial fruit crops cause by flying-foxes has finally entered the fray with the ABC reporting nothing much has changed.

Labor, the LNP and the Greens were drawn out on the issue after receiving a questionnaire prepared by the Flying-fox Conservation Network earlier this month.

Each party was asked whether it would support lethal methods of crop protection against flying-foxes, the legislation having been changed by Labor last year when a report by Queensland’s Animal Welfare Advisory Committee found the practice to be inhumane.

Labor and Greens respondents answered no, while the LNP pledge to overturn the ban if elected.

The issue has been bubbling away in one regional newspaper, The Warwick Daily, for some time, but only gained national attention when the final questionnaire was return by the LNP on Tuesday.

Having previously been eclipsed by the recession, floods, a hurricane and an oil spill, stake holders in the flying-fox debate have resorted to their imaginations in an effort to drum up interest.

By far the most creative is an Economic Regional Impact Study conducted by the Southern Downs Regional Council into the damages caused by Flying-foxes to fruit production in the Granite Belt during 2008-09.

The one page document estimates damages to reach $110 million dollars. Mike Jones, Director of Regional Services for DPI in southern Queensland issued this statement after the figures were reported in the Warwick Daily on 5 March:

While some preliminary economic data gathered by Southern Downs Regional Council was reported in the media these data were not fully evaluated and the final economic impact study is still being developed.

This is how they did it: by taking worst case crop losses estimates of 25% and multiplying by best case price estimates, damages came to $19 million. Add a million for symmetry, times by an economic multiplier of 5.5 just because you can and you arrive at the noticeable some of $110 million. Nice.

Peter Fray

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