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Thursday, 3 November 2011
Page: 8129


Senator WATERS (Queensland) (12:03): I move:

That the Senate—

   (a)   notes that:

      (i)   there are significant gaps in independent scientific research on the ecology and biodiversity of Cape York, particularly in the remote western parts of the Cape,

      (ii)   two new species, a crab and a shrimp, have recently been discovered on western Cape York in the course of the Environment Impact Assessment for Rio Tinto Alcan's proposed South of Embley bauxite mine,

      (iii)   these new species are believed to only exist in this area and may well meet the criteria for listing as federally threatened under our national environmental laws, but this lengthy listing process has not commenced,

      (iv)   the enormous footprint of the proposed mine almost certainly presents a significant threat to these species,

      (v)   the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (Mr Burke) is precluded from considering the impacts of the proposed mine on these new species in his current assessment of the project under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the Act), as they are not yet listed,

      (vi)   the Act lacks provisions for 'emergency listings' of newly discovered species, but the Government has committed to introduce such provisions as part of its environment protection and biodiversity conservation reform package due in 2012 - too late to save these creatures, and

      (vii)   Senator Waters' currently has a bill before the Senate to fast-track this government commitment to add emergency listing provisions for species and ecological communities, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Emergency Listings) Bill 2011; and

   (b)   calls on the Government to:

      (i)   act swiftly to ensure these newly discovered species get the federal protection they urgently need to avoid the possibility of them being sent to extinction before they have even been named, and

      (ii)   urgently commission its own studies to ensure independent and full information about the biodiversity on the South of Embley site underpins the Minister's decision regarding this mine.

Question negatived.