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Thursday, 26 February 1987
Page: 701

Senator COLEMAN —I refer the Minister representing the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Environment to an article which appeared in the West Australian recently and which reported a meeting of the Association for the Advancement of Science held in the United States. When addressing that meeting, Professor Peter Raven asserted that over one million species of flora and fauna, or around a quarter of the world's total, may be extinct within 30 years. I ask the Minister what the Australian Government is doing, both within Australia and at an international level, to minimise the loss of our unique native species.

Senator RYAN —The Minister for Arts, Heritage and Environment has provided me with the following information in relation to Senator Coleman's question: The Australian Government is concerned at the world-wide progressive depletion of species which arises primarily from habitat change. On the international scene Australia is working closely with responsible international organisations. Through the International Whaling Commission, Australia has promoted a moratorium on commercial whaling. Under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna, Australia has taken a prominent role in protecting endangered plants and animals from the adverse effects of commercial trade. Bilateral agreements with Japan and the People's Republic of China provide an effective means to protect migratory birds in both their breeding and wintering ranges. Habitat protection is implemented through the Convention on Nature in the South Pacific and the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Water Fowl Habitat. That treaty is known as Ramsar. Australia was the first nation to become a party to Ramsar.