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Wednesday, 29 October 2003
Page: 17067

Senator LEES (9:32 AM) —By leave—I move:

That the Senate take note of the statement.

Firstly, may I thank you, Mr President, for taking this matter seriously since I raised it with you on Monday. But I point out that this is at least double the number of bird deaths that are ever found in any particular week and that the birds still have not returned. However, as of last night there were a few currawongs in and out and I think it is only a matter of a short time before others move into the space. Therefore, can I ask whether you have any information as to how long the residual poison that has been sprayed to kill the moths on the surfaces outside around the doors and windows will last? For example, has it been diluted in any way by the rain we have just had? It does seem that, as the birds that are missing or dead are those that were likely to feed on the moths—as we know, the currawongs feed very heavily on the moths—and that other birds such as honeyeaters that do not touch the moths are still out there, I think we have to presume, until proven otherwise, that it is the moths that are toxic.

Is it possible to have all of the dead moths cleaned up—in patches there are literally hundreds of them in piles—so that, if other currawongs move into the spaces that have been created by the death or otherwise of the currawongs and magpies that were here previously, they too will not be poisoned? Also, can there be no more poison laid until such time as we can ascertain whether it is the moths coming in with poison in them that is causing the problem—although it seems, as you have said, that there are no birds dying anywhere else in Canberra or this area—or whether it is in fact the poison? Perhaps it was mixed to the wrong consistency and it was an incorrect dilution that was placed around Parliament House. If we could have the moths cleaned up and no more poison laid until we get to the bottom of this, it may prevent any birds that move in facing the same fate.