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Thursday, 6 March 2014
Page: 1894

Mr KELVIN THOMSON (Wills) (13:50): The Mallee emu-wren is a tiny and delicate bird; it would easily fit into the palm of my hand. It has a feathery tail and is a thing of beauty. I was therefore very distressed to hear that the South Australian bushfires that accompanied the week-long heatwave in that part of the world had destroyed all of the remaining wild population of the Mallee emu-wren in South Australia, leaving only one place in the world where the bird survives—that is, Victoria's Murray-Sunset National Park. This makes the bird extremely vulnerable; a single fire could render it extinct. So when I heard the Prime Minister saying that perhaps we had too much national park, I was absolutely astonished. I do not have religious convictions myself, but for someone who claims to have them to say that we can have species which are part of God's creation become extinct on our watch is, I think, deeply unsatisfactory. Australia has lost 27 bird species since European settlement, and at least another 20 are considered at imminent risk of extinction. I hope that this government and others that have land management responsibilities will make sure that we have wildlife habitat corridors so that a species like the Mallee emu-wren is not lost to us forever.