THE outrage over Bathurst Regional Council’s support of a kangaroo relocation program from the Mount Panorama precinct has been quite extraordinary in recent months.
That outrage is sure to be reignited by confirmation that the cost to ratepayers of council’s support has already hit $75,000 – well above the $20,000 originally budgeted by council – and a request for council to dig deep again.
A report to councillors by corporate services and finance director Bob Roach – who has made plain his concern over the rising cost of the project – indicates council has also been asked to help pay for tracking collars for the relocated kangaroos and the extra medicants needed to calm the 300 kangaroos now involved in the project, up from the original estimate of 150 kangaroos.
But now is not the time for councillors to cut and run.
The decision to back the Bathurst Kangaroo Project was a a brave one by this current crop of councillors, going against the advice of senior staff.
It was a decision that has also drawn considerable local criticism, most along of the lines of the predictable “what else could that money have been spent on?”.
But it’s also a decision that sought to redefine Bathurst’s relationship with the natural environment while also seeking to provide some sort of insurance policy for the region’s biggest money spinner – Mount Panorama.
It’s not overstating it to suggest a ’roo-related death during a major race could mean an end to racing on the Mount.
But will the relocation work? Once this mob of kangaroos is relocated to another area, will more simply take their place and put us back at square one?
Well, we’re about to find out. This has never been done before so no-one can say with any certainty what the result will be.
What can be said with certainty, though, is that Bathurst Kangaroo Project leader Ray Mjadwesch knows more about these animals than anyone within the council chambers or those opposing the project from outside the chambers.
And if he believes it’s worth trying – and is willing to commit countless hours of his own unpaid time to the project – then council is doing the right thing by supporting it.
If it’s a success, the money spent will be returned to the city many times over. If it’s not, then council will go searching for another solution.