Pretty sure we can shut up shop now.
I received a response today for my letter to the Prime Minister regarding Pygmy Hedgehogs.
It seems that in order to get the silly legislation that bans their import overturned I must present a compelling scientific case.
Thank you for your email to the Prime Minister regarding importation of the Pygmy Hedgehog as a pet into Australia. The species is currently prohibited for import as it is not on the list of specimens taken as suitable for import into Australia, or the live import list, under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (1999). Following are links to relevant information about the live import list:
Anyone may apply to amend the live import list. Please refer to the following pages for information:
However it should be noted that this is a very rigorous process, and requires a full environmental assessment of a species, based on specific Terms of Reference at a minimum. The report is to be written in a scientific style. An environmental consultant may be employed to do this, though the applicant must pay for this, and the Department cannot recommend consultants. Furthermore, lodging an application does not guarantee that a species will be added to the live import list.
Please read the information on the above web pages, particularly the guidelines to what is required in the report. If you have any further questions relating to this matter please contact me.
In the meantime I sent this response to Peter Garrett.
Hi. You don’t know me, but I am one of the legions of fans who think you make a better politician than rock star.
While Midnight Oil are a national icon, they were just not my cup of tea (white with no sugar, my mum always said if you need to add sugar to your tea you’re not mature enough to drink it – do you take sugar in your tea? Do you even drink tea? You look more like an energy drink drinker)…
I write to you to commend to you a member of staff in your department. I have attached an email I received from Kerrie Hankinson below.
I wrote a letter (it was an email actually) a week ago commending the notion of importing pygmy hedgehogs to Australia. My wife wants one for a pet.
Kerrie has provided very helpful information and advice and I look forward to submitting my submission to your office for consideration.
My family has a long and successful track record of importing animals into Australia. Animals that have metaphorically changed the landscape of Australian farming. My great-great-grandfather, or possibly great-great-great-grandfather, was one of the men who brought Brahman cows into the country. This is my family’s legacy, our claim to fame, perhaps one day people will look back at your bold and courageous decision to allow the importation of pygmy hedgehogs as a similar moment.
I have a dream that one day the Pygmy Hedgehog will replace the domestic cat in households around Australia. I hate cats. Cats kill birds and other native Australian animals. The replacement of cats with hedgehogs can only be a good thing for the environment.
I took a survey of cat owners in my office, and amongst my friends (sample size 16), and most said they would destroy their cats in order to own a hedgehog.
Hedgehogs are a suitable replacement because they have a smaller environmental footprint than cats. They have a smaller physical footprint too, and are much less likely to hunt our animals as prey. They also eat cat food so there will only be a minimal economic impact on cat food manufacturers.
I wonder if, on the basis of this research and my family’s history as animal importers, you might wave the need for my application to be “scientific” in nature. I am pursuing this avenue as a private citizen who wants to give his wife a present rather than as someone with commercial imperatives. I don’t like the idea of paying a scientist to do this research.
My wife likes pets. We have two pet turtles. There names are Franklin and Roosevelt. We have properly issued EPA permits for these pets, and I think a similarly seamless permit process would easily allow the keeping of these hedgehogs as pets without any negative implications for the environment.
I think there’s also an imperative from your “Arts” portfolio to allow these hedgehogs to be imported. Every artist needs a muse, and these hedgehogs would be perfect. I’ve read that Spike Jonze takes his inspiration from a hedgehog, but that was on a blog so it’s probably not true. At the very least, Sonic the Hedgehog is a hedgehog, though he’s blue and not a pygmy…
It’s worth thinking about.
To conclude I write you this verse… I hope it’s not a breach of your copyright…
The time has come
a fact’s a fact
Echidnas are cool,
hedgehogs the new black
How can we dance when our birds keep squirming
how do we sleep while our cats keep murd’ring
Cats keep killing the cockatoos
from Kintore East to Yuendemu
While pygmy hedgehogs live and breathes
they’re cute and don’t have fleas
I’m clearly not a songwriter, and the metre of this is out a beat or two – but you get my point. I think music can be a powerful tool to change people’s minds and the policy of governments. Wouldn’t you agree?
I sent the following email to the Prime Minister. Please feel free to join me in this campaign.
From: Nathan Campbell
Subject: Petition to allow the import of Pygmy HedgehogsDear Prime Minister Kevin Rudd,
In last Saturday’s Courier Mail a story (attached) ran depicting the Pygmy Hedgehog. The Pygmy Hedgehog, or African Pygmy Hedgehog, is very small and cute. As you’ll see in the picture from the attached article. It is also illegal to own one as a pet in Australia, and to import them (according to the Department of Environment Exotic Animal Guide).
I write to petition you to allow the import of these animals into Australia because they are very cute and would make good pets.
They are, as I mentioned, very small and unlikely to pose as a threat to natural wildlife if released into the wild (but who would release a pet this cute into the wild).
They eat a balanced diet of insects and cat food.
The reason Wikipedia gives (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domesticated_hedgehog) for many countries not allowing pygmy hedgehogs is that they can carry “foot in mouth” disease.
I’m sure that you, as politicians, can relate to this disease and understand that it is no big deal as the news cycle only lasts a couple of days and then slip-ups are forgotten.
Foot in mouth disease, and hedgehogs (if eaten), may also help to eradicate the cane toad.
Foot-in-mouth disease is also carried by many other animals. Including Deer. Which according to that same exotic animal checklist (http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/trade-use/exoticanimalguide/list.html) are able to be imported.
These are just a sampling of the reasons that you should consider to allow the import of these hedgehogs.
At the end of the day the equation is very simple. The cuteness of these animals far outweighs any negatives as either a biosecurity issue or environmental impact.
If you are not able to allow the import of Pygmy Hedgehogs at this time could you please advise what steps must be taken to one day enable Australian pet owners the basic human right to own whatever animal we please. This right was established in the Christian creation account in Genesis. In prohibiting the import of this animal you are limiting our right to exercise dominion over creation. I know you are both Christian men so you will understand the importance of this.
I have CC’d the Australian Christian Lobby’s Jim Wallace in the hope that this matter will become part of the ACL policy platform. As you can tell I am keen to explore all possible avenues of persuasion in order to buy one of these for my wife. She isn’t sick or dying so I can’t tug on your heart strings. But she does love animals. And I think this would be a fantastic Christmas present.
I look forward to receiving your response.
PS. I didn’t vote for you last time – so I’ll understand if you don’t want to help me. But allowing the import of these hedgehogs would sway my vote this time. They are better looking than Malcolm Turnbull.