New fee rise will hurt Snakes Dow­nun­der

Isis Town and Country - - Front Page - By EMMA REID

IAN Jenk­ins has spent years build­ing Snakes Dow­nun­der into a well-known tourist at­trac­tion.

In the lead up to the new fi­nan­cial year, a time when he should be wor­ried about the sim­ple task of in­come state­ments and tax re­turns, he is fear­ful his busi­ness won’t sur­vive af­ter July 1.

This is be­cause of the new Ex­hib­ited An­i­mals Act, which is in draft form, and is set to go through when Cab­i­net meets next.

“We have been tied up a fair bit with this new leg­is­la­tion go­ing through for ex­hib­ited an­i­mals,” he said.

“There is a lot of stuff we are not happy with; there is a lot of time not do­ing what you want to do.”

What Mr Jenk­ins would rather be do­ing, in­stead of sit­ting in front of a com­puter screen fil­ing pa­per­work, is car­ing for his an­i­mals and grow­ing his busi­ness.

The new leg­is­la­tion is de­signed to pre­vent or min­i­malise the risks as­so­ci­ated with deal­ing and ex­hibit­ing an­i­mals.

But Mr Jenk­ins’ main con­cerns are the time he will spend away from the zoo to com­ply with the reg­u­la­tions and the in­crease in fees in each ap­pli­ca­tion to dis­play each an­i­mal.

“For an amend­ment to a per­mit, say to add an an­i­mal, it will go from $18 to $453 just to have the ap­pli­ca­tion looked at,” he said.

“And the way you iden­tify an­i­mals; they want to have each an­i­mal mi­crochipped or a tag in its ear. And some­time you can’t do that with some an­i­mals.

“They will no longer al­low pho­to­graphic iden­ti­fi­ca­tion.”

Along with this, a new man­age­ment plan will be in­tro­duced which Mr Jenk­ins said would take up more time.

He said each blue tongue or shin­gle back lizard would re­quire a in­di­vid­ual man­age­ment plan but when kept by per­sons with a recre­ational li­cence it would not be the case.

Agri­cul­ture and Fish­eries Minister Leanne Don­ald­son said the li­cens­ing change would help sim­plify and as­sist busi­nesses like Snakes Dow­nun­der.

She said small ex­hibitors of na­tive an­i­mals will gen­er­ally pay ei­ther less or the same as they cur­rently pay.

“Sig­nif­i­cantly, only the few large ex­hibitors in Queens­land, and those who ex­hibit ex­otic an­i­mals, will pay higher fees than the cur­rent very low rate,” Ms Don­ald­son said.

“The changes will bring them into line with the fees charged in other states.

“Ex­hibitors will be ex­pected to de­velop man­age­ment plans to meet rel­e­vant risks in­clud­ing those as­so­ci­ated with an­i­mal wel­fare, biose­cu­rity and safety.”

Mem­ber for Bur­nett Stephen Ben­nett said he sat on the com­mit­tee that drafted the bill un­der but was con­cerned it had now be­come a cash grab and miss the point en­tirely.

“I would be con­cerned if this reg­u­la­tion was just a grab for cash on un­sus­pect­ing small busi­ness op­er­a­tors,” Mr Ben­nett said.

“I look for­ward to work­ing with the lo­cal key stake­hold­ers to de­ter­mine a course of ac­tion.”

Snakes Dow­nun­der’s Ian Jenk­ins We have been tied up a fair bit ...

PHO­TOS: BEN TURN­BULL

CHILDERS IS WILD: Macca gets some sun at Snakes Dow­nun­der.

Kathy Chalker takes a photo of Der­rek Chalker.

The kan­ga­roos are one of the many at­trac­tions.

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