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Notice given 8 August 2001

3831  Senator Carr: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Employment, Workplace Relations and Small Business—

(1) Has approximately $200 000 been provided in the past 2 years, under the New Apprenticeship Access Program, to the meat department of the William Angliss Institute of TAFE.

(2) What is the amount of federal funding involved in the recent unaccountable disappearance or inappropriate delivery of 4 tonnes of meat from the meat department at William Angliss to a meat wholesaler.

(3) What investigations are under way to identify the extent of this misappropriation and the degree to which Commonwealth programs have been either affected or involved.

(4) What contact has been initiated with any Victorian agency to investigate the extent of this misappropriation and the degree to which federal resources have been involved.

(5) What steps are being taken by the Commonwealth to recover federal funds involved in this misappropriation.

3832  Senator Brown: To ask the Minister for the Environment and Heritage—

(1) How many proposals for wind farms along the coasts of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania have been referred to the Commonwealth for assessment under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act because of their potential impact on threatened bird species in particular, one of Australia’s most endangered birds, the Orange Bellied Parrot.

(2) What is the Commonwealth’s assessment of the cumulative effect of these proposals on threatened bird species, including the Orange Bellied Parrot population, which is estimated to be not more than 200 mature birds.

(3) Is the cumulative effect of these proposals on migratory threatened species being assessed before any of the proposals are approved under the Act; if not, why not.

(4) If the cumulative effect of these proposals is not being assessed, will the Minister immediately move to have the effect assessed before granting any approvals to wind farm applications in the migratory route of the Orange Bellied Parrot.

3833  Senator Brown: To ask the Minister for the Environment and Heritage—

(1) Can the Minister confirm that the site for the proposed wind farm at Woolnorth in Tasmania is located in one of two main avian migratory routes between Tasmania and mainland Australia and is known to be an important migratory route for more than 30 species of birds.

(2) Can the Minister confirm that a significant number of resident and migratory species of national, state and regional significance have been identified on and in the vicinity of the proposed site, including the nationally-listed Orange Bellied Parrot (critically endangered), the Wedge-tailed Eagle (endangered) and the soon to be listed White Bellied Sea Eagle.

(3) Can the Minister confirm that the predictive model that was developed to determine the impact on bird species is based on inadequate primary data, since it did not include nocturnal surveys or full migratory seasons and failed to take into account risks from turbulence around the towers and blades in spite of the known impact of turbulence in disrupting flight and causing disorientation in birds.

(4) Can the Minister confirm that the surveys on which the model was developed did not cover the full migratory seasons for key species, including the Orange Bellied Parrot, and in fact only around 13 per cent of the time the birds might be moving through the area on a northern migration was surveyed and only 7 per cent if it is assumed that birds move equally at night and only 7 per cent of available time for equal day and night movements on a southern migration.

(5) Does the Minister agree that any conclusions based on modelling developed from this primary data have no scientific validity and could in no way be relied upon to determine the likely impact of the wind farm on bird species like the Orange Bellied Parrot, the Tasmanian Wedge-tailed Eagle or the White Bellied Sea Eagle.

(6) Can the Minister confirm that the Wedge-tailed Eagle has a wingspan of approximately 1 metre; if so, does the Minister agree that the model which only considered birds up to fifty centimetres is invalid and contains flawed assumptions; and if so, does the Minister agree that the model should be rejected as having no scientific validity.

(7) Given the paucity of the primary data on bird usage of the Woolnorth site and the invalid nature of the model developed and hence conclusions drawn about bird impacts and mortality rates, will the Minister reject the proposal.

3834  Senator Brown: To ask the Minister for the Environment and Heritage—

(1) Can the Minister confirm that the proposed wind farm site at Woolnorth in north west Tasmania is situated in an area with the highest Wedge-Tailed Eagle (endangered) densities in Tasmania.

(2) Can the Minister confirm that there is no primary data regarding the pattern of landscape usage of these birds, especially, how they respond to a major change in the landscape.

(3) Can the Minister confirm that the risk assessment undertaken by the proponent does not take into account either the turbulence around the towers or blades and the possible sink effect on the species, ie. if nesting pairs on the site are killed and a repeating cycle occurs where replacement pairs move into the vicinity and are also killed.

(4) Can the Minister confirm that no radio telemetry of the eagles has been undertaken to date and therefore, there is no baseline data upon which to estimate back ground turnover and hence changes to populations as a result of the wind farm.

(5) Can the Minister confirm that no neighbouring control area has been established to monitor the eagles; if so, will the Minister require such a control area to be established.

(6) Will the Minister require that a fixed number of at least 20 eagles be tagged for the radio telemetry study and that the number is maintained by additional tagging if birds are lost.

(7) Does the Minister agree that the only agreed approach for reducing bird mortalities is to locate wind farms in areas of low bird usage, and that this and the precautionary principle should inform his decision regarding the proposal.

(8) Is the Minister aware of the inadequacies in the monitoring regime that is being proposed to determine the level of impact on the avifauna, in particular, the concept of predator fencing and the nature of the sampling for dead birds.

(9) Can the Minister confirm that fencing of turbines to restrict predators will only protect against terrestrial predators/mammal carnivores and will not protect against corvids, currawongs, butcherbirds, ravens and eagles and hence if the turbines kill birds, the dead birds will disappear rapidly and simply checking the interior of the fence will be no indication of the bird mortality rate.

(10) (a) Does the Minister agree that fencing only a small sample of three turbines out of a possible 43 is not a sufficient random sample of turbines to give any indication of mortality rates; and (b) should more turbines be fenced to better sample the whole site.

(11) Does the Minister agree that the distance from the base of the turbine to the outer perimeter of the fence should be far enough to allow for the impact of turbulence as well as for the impact of the blades.

(12) Does the Minister agree that the proposed sampling of dead birds every 4 days is inadequate given that the existing data shows that the half-life for small birds is 24 hours.

(13) With reference to the above questions, can the Minister confirm that less than half of the small birds killed over 4 days would be there after 4 days.

(14) Does the Minister agree that the monitoring regime has been designed to make certain that no dead birds are found.