Congratulations to Dr. Glen Saunders of the New South Wales Department of Industry and Investment and head of the Vertebrate Pest Unit based at Orange. Glen was made a Member of the Order of Australia ("AM") in yesterday's Honours list. Glen is well known in the agricultural community for his three decades of work on pest animals and biodiversity. He has worked on a wide range of species, but mainly on mouse plagues, feral pigs and foxes. He is the program leader for the Invasive Animals CRC's Terrestrial Program.
Another "pest person", Nicholas Newland of South Australia was honoured yesterday with an AM. Nicholas has formerly headed Rabbit Free Australia but has been involved in many environmental programs and issues, with a particular history and interest in rabbit control. Congratulations Nicholas.
It's fantastic to see scientists and environmentalists getting honours. Our newest Australian Nobel Laureate, Professor Elizabeth Blackburn was duly honoured, as was well-known marsupial researcher at the Australian National University, Professor Jenny Graves as well as many others. I don't think the criticism that used to be leveled that sport was over-recognised in the award system is valid any more (if it ever was). This year's Australian of the Year, Professor Patrick McGorry is a researcher and advocate in mental health and my rough count makes him the 12th scientist/medical researcher since the beginning of the awards to be Australian of the Year, with around 14 sportsmen or women receiving the same honour. Overall, more academics have received the award than sports people.
The top award isn't the issue anyway, in my view. I like that we have a system that can recognise those people that "put in" year after year volunteering at a local charity or club, helping clear a waterway of weeds or ensuring a home for those that need it.
Given the importance of feral animals on our environment and agriculture, it's great to see Glen Saunders and Nicholas Newland get recognised. Well done.
Posted by Tony Peacock, founder of 'Feral Thoughts'