Inquiry into fox project flagged

WINDERMERE independent MLC Ivan Dean is considering seeking an Integrity Commission investigation into the fox eradication program.

It comes after a week of damning allegations were raised against Health Department bureaucrats in a commission report, and on the back of the recent release of a two-year independent report that found there was no credible scientific evidence to justify the spending of about $50 million on the fox eradication program.

Mr Dean this week also tabled a notice of motion to the Legislative Council, that it take on board and learn from the findings of the independent report which brought into question the scientific data used to continue funding the program over 13 years.

``An Integrity Commission investigation is certainly something I would consider, that we'd hold an inquiry that uncovers any wrongdoing,'' he said.

``There's clearly evidence that things have gone on.''

Mr Dean said questions had been raised in the past about much less amounts of spending, so it only made sense that this program was properly investigated.

He said he felt a little bit like the ``Erin Brockovich'' of the issue as he had raised concerns about it for many years, but the program continued to be funded at a state and federal level until last year.

He said tabling the motion was important so that the state could seek to learn from the situation and ensure independent, evidence-based risk assessment and management policies were used to safeguard the state's biosecurity and biodiversity.

Mr Dean said he hoped to move the motion in the Legislative Council on June 24.

Meanwhile, one of the lead scientists behind the independent fox report, Dr Clive Marks, said yesterday he had written to the University of Canberra over a dispute of access to data that was used by the former state government to shore up its case for continnued funding.

The dispute involves the university's Institute for Applied Ecology professor Stephen Sarre, who claimed the group of independent scientists did not request access to his fox research as a way to further test their findings.

Professor Sarre recently told  The Examiner  he neither refused nor ignored the requests from the group, because he was never asked.

Dr Marks has disputed this and is now taking it up with the university council.


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