The adoption of a mammal emblem is more than just the chance to talk about a cute critter. Having a mammal species recognised as an emblem elevates the public profile of that species and draws attention to the mammal, its habitat and habits. If the ACT decides to adopt one, we need to pick it carefully.
The Standing Committee on Environment and Transport and City Services has been tasked with inquiring into whether the ACT should have a mammal emblem, and if so, which animal it should be.
The Committee is interested to find if any candidates for the mammal emblem hold historic or cultural relevance to Canberra, have strong symbolic value, or are ‘at the top of their field’ for one reason or another. Conservation and biodiversity will be considered too, potentially following Western Australia and Tasmania’s faunal emblem selection, which projected state-wide attention to endangered species.
The Committee is currently taking submissions from Canberra residents and interested organisations. After conducting public hearings and deliberating on the evidence before it, the Committee will present its recommendation to the Assembly.
A similar inquiry was held by the Standing Committee on Economic Development and Tourism in 1996. The inquiry led to the determination of our bird emblem, the Gang Gang Cockatoo. The inquiry found that the birds are easily recognised – having a distinctive call and physic – and are resident across rural and urban areas all year. Canberrans were said to have a special affinity to the Gang Gang Cockatoo, which is endemic to the ACT. The Committee also dictated that the emblem should be native to the Territory, should not be in use by another State or Territory, and that the ACT community should be involved in the selection process.
The Committee isn’t the first organisation to invite feedback on options for an ACT mammal emblem. The Canberra Times held a poll in November 2017 which received 2804 votes. The bettong and echidna were both front-runners, but there are many other mammals that could be in the running. If you would like to see all the options for mammals known to be living in the ACT, take a look at the Atlas of Living Australia, and while you’re there you can explore all the flora and fauna the ACT has to offer too.
If you think we should have a mammal emblem, if you have an idea of what that should be, or even if you think the ACT is well served by our current emblems and feel another is redundant, the Committee would like to hear from you. For more information on the inquiry visit the Committee website and make sure you have your say by emailing your submission to the Environment and Transport and City Services Committee, on LACommitteeETCS@parliament.act.gov.au.
Suzanne Orr MLA is the Chair of the Standing Committee on Environment and Transport and City Services.