Australian Commentary (29) – When Governments Won’t do Their Job

There is no crueler tyranny than that which is perpetuated under the shield of law and in the name of justice. Charles de Montesquieu

The Australian town of Bairnsdale in Victoria has 11,000 residents, and 80,000 fruit-bats. The ABC program Landline on 21st September featured this town, showing footage of the roosting bats. The bats are clearly in pest numbers, and the locals want something done about it.

But nothing is being done, because the three levels of government (Federal, State and Local) each have regulations relating to bats, which sometimes conflict. The local Federal member, Darren Chester admits that he has been seeking cooperation for 5 years on this matter, but nothing has been done.

The Bible speaks directly to this issue. It says concerning Adam and Eve,

God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Gen.1:28).

God places man over the environment. We are over it; it is not over us. Yes, it is to be cared for responsibly, but the blanket imposition of a Federal ban on the culling of bats as a protected species is clearly not helping to deal with the issues. There needs to be change, facilitated by the three levels of government.

Locals around Bairnsdale complain that their health is negatively affected by the bats, which can carry Hendra, which since 1994 has infected seven Australians, only three of whom have survived. They can also carry Bat Lyssavirus, which was discovered in 1996, when two Queensland women contracted it from bat-bites and later died. Local industry is affected by the bats, particularly apple orchards. Those fruit-bats love apples. Furthermore, tourists are turned off by 80,000 disease-ridden, defecating, messy, noisy bats. That’s not good.

And the issue of these bats and their control is not limited to Bairnsdale. This is an issue that affects many towns right up the eastern seaboard of Australia into Queensland, and everyone is hamstrung from taking action.

Not only does the Bible speak to the issue of bats. It goes much further. It explains that:

…rulers are not a cause of fear for good behaviour, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good… (Ro.13:3-4).

So, God has not just placed the animal kingdom under the authority of people. He makes authorities responsible for dealing with evil behaviour, as “a minister of God to you for good.”

Three years ago, “The Australian” reported that

On a September morning in Gayndah [Queensland, population around 2000], Dennis Wilson took a break from managing the Golden Orange Hotel to muse on the unfathomable ways of government. A few weeks earlier the town had finally received permission to move its flying fox colony, but not until every baby bat could fly independently. A national parks officer was now sitting by the riverbank every day, monitoring the bat-nursery. The bats had stripped so many trees along the riverbank that roughly half the colony had left to find food elsewhere, but there were still about 150,000 hanging around.

When governments prevent law-abiding people from doing what is right and good (such as having a cull on disease-ridden pest animals), they have abandoned their God-given task. Governments thus need challenge and confrontation from the church, community leaders, and the community at large, leading to speedy inter-governmental consultation, cooperation and action.

Why should a town be dominated by disease-ridden bats?

Because of Church and community inaction. The residents of Bairnsdale and other bat- infested towns, led by their Churches and other community representatives, should make this a priority, calling for the three tiers of government to change the laws appropriately, so that these disgusting bat infestations can be dealt with through a legal cull.

This would be easy to carry out, once the legislative changes are made to both laws protecting bats, and firearms laws. The firearms laws must be changed to permit police- supervised culling of pests such as bats in towns.

In a day, if 400 shooters with their own shotguns in and around Bairnsdale shot 200 bats each, that is 80,000 dead bats: perfectly achievable. Of course, the bats might not hang around waiting to be shot.

The State government could supply the ammunition to shooters via the police, for around $30,000. Other volunteers would be needed to help to finish off wounded bats, pick them up (with gloves) and take them to the local tip in bags, trailers or trucks, where a hole could be dug for them the day before.

None of this is hard to do; it’s a simple, relatively safe community activity. But it will require the persistence of Church and community leaders who challenge and require the three tiers of government to get off their respective backsides and do their job as public servants.

Remember? “…A minister of God for good.”

And if they don’t want to change the legislation? Get rid of them next election and vote for those who’ll get the changes made.

Let’s see some action, and people (led by the church) ruling responsibly over the creation again. It’s God’s will for Bairnsdale, Gayndah and the rest of the planet.


If not us, who? If not now, when? Let’s make ourselves useful to God in the nation.