Liberal Democratic Party senator David Leyonhjelm is doing the best he can to advance the causes he believes in. While the fledgling senator is sometimes right on the money, on more than a few occasions he has curiously been off-message. Last week, the crossbench senator advanced one of the strangest parliamentary arguments in favour of domesticating wild quolls and bilbies!
In the Senate, Mr. Leyonhjelm discussed the welfare of Australia’s domestic mammal populations. The first-term senator asserted that Australians should be able to domesticate native animals in order to ensure their species’ survival.
There has been extensive discussion over keeping Australia native animals as pets but it has not before been posed to parliament as a legitimate idea.
“Certain kinds of wallabies make great pets. The quoll may replace domestic cats,” he told the house. “The bilby is often nominated as a great candidate for domestication. In the right circumstances, possums, Tasmanian devils, wombats, native rats, antechinus and bandicoots would also be great pets. Just as cats and dogs are in no danger of dying out, the same will be true if native animals are privately owned. It means they have value.”
But the pragmatic libertarian did recognise certain limits to his fanciful scheme. “There is no disputing that some native animals may make unsuitable pets, at least in certain situations,” he said. “Many are nocturnal, for example, which might require us to adjust our own sleeping habits to enjoy them.”
The kooky comments were largely derided within the media and singled out as downright ludicrous by the fellow senators. The Greens environment spokesperson, Senator Larissa Waters, said the suggestion was utterly absurd.
“Suggesting that we can stop the our extinction crisis by keeping native animals as pets, while dismissing national parks flies in the face of the scientific evidence,” she noted. “The suggestion that the only way to save native wildlife is to domesticate it is ludicrous.”
For Mr. Leyonhjelm, the issue is clearly one that’s close to his heart. He’s a self-professed animal lover, regularly sharing pictures of his white cat on social media platforms. But, as his fellow senators have pointed out, Mr. Leyonhjelm’s ideas might prove to be downright detrimental to the fate of Australia’s native fauna.
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