Oct 022009

Whilst the contract killing of 140 eastern grey kangaroos as a supposed safety measure in the lead-up to next week’s motorsport fest at Mount Panorama, Bathurst might upset those who don’t understand or appreciate motorsport, I dare say there will be 64 grateful drivers, a dozen or so team owners, almost uncountable corporate team sponsors and several million motorsport spectators who will welcome the Bathurst City Council decision.

Anyone who has either been to the Mountain or watched the annual event on the box will know that roos have always presented a problem there. A 200 to 300 kilometre per hour problem depending just where on the track they decide to make their presence known. Fast moving V8 Supercar and equivalently fast moving eastern grey kangaroo meeting always has two certain outcomes. Death of the animal and complete destruction of the race car. The death of the roo may not always be immediate, clean or quick. Neither is the destruction of the race car, however the end of both is certain. The question begging here is the value difference – if such a comparison can be drawn ethically – between the life of an Australian native animal and the time, effort and money involved in the creation of a half-million dollar machine.
Of course, the other consideration not mentioned in the linked article is the safety of the race car driver. There, a comparison on a life-for-life basis is fair and reasonable. Kangaroo doing what it does and race car driver doing what he or she does. Is a human life to be valued over & above that of an Australian native animal? Extremists would say ‘yes’, but that’s why I call them extremists. Rationalists would say ‘no’, and rightly so. To a human being, the life of another human being will always out-weigh that of a lesser species.
Is the Bathurst council justified in culling the kangaroo numbers on the Mountain, in order that the risk of serious accidents between car & roo be minimised? Absolutely! Again, you’d need to have actually been there to understand just what a dangerous place the Mount Panorama circuit is at any time, let alone at 200+ kph. It’s a vexed issue, to be sure, but from a duty of care perspective, which Bathurst council, the Australian Racing Drivers Club (owners of the race circuit) and V8 Supercars Australia Pty Ltd have to spectators who attend the circuit, and from a spectators perspective as well, untimely meetings between roos and race cars are best kept to an absolute minimum. I’d hate to see a race car airborne and off the circuit into a spectator area as a result of a collision with a kangaroo. If killing off 140 of them does the job, then I’m all for it.

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