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Notice given 7 November 2006

2615  Senator Milne: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources—

(1) With reference to government assistance provided to the Tasmanian Department of Tourism, Arts and the Environment to prepare a draft eradication plan for rabbits and rodents on Macquarie Island and to the Tasmanian Government’s appointment, with Commonwealth assistance (through National Heritage Trust (NHT) funding), of a project officer to further develop this plan: (a) what steps has the Minister taken to allocate funds, from the NHT or other sources, for the implementation of the plan in conjunction with the Tasmanian Government; and (b) if no such steps have been taken, when will the Minister allocate funds.

(2) Given that Commonwealth funding has been provided for various phases of the vertebrate pests program for the Macquarie Island World Heritage Area as stated in the answer to question on notice no. 1915 (Senate Hansard , 6 September 2006, p. 153), will the Government make a commitment to provide sufficient funds to complete the program.

(3) What has been the effect so far on the nesting habitat and breeding success of the Macquarie Island grey-headed albatross population, listed as vulnerable under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 , given that the location of the only colony, with 80 breeding pairs only, has been severely damaged by rabbits.

(4) What has been the effect of rabbit grazing on the breeding success of Macquarie Island populations of: (a) wandering albatross, with approximately 19 breeding pairs only; (b) blue petrels; and (c) fairy prions, all listed as vulnerable under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 .

(5) How many king penguins and their chicks were killed as a result of the recent rabbit-induced landslip at Lusitania Bay.

(6) How will the recent landslip at the Sandy Bay tourist boardwalk affect the experience of the tourists landing on Macquarie Island in 2006.

(7) What steps has the Minister taken to review the conservation status of endemic species and subantarctic vegetation communities on Macquarie Island in light of the observed increase in rabbit damage and its associated impacts on Macquarie Island biodiversity and landscape.


 (8) Given the accelerating degradation of the environment of Macquarie Island, with increasing risks of landslips due to vegetation loss as a result of rabbit grazing, what are the increased occupational health and safety risks to personnel of the Australian Government Antarctic Division and Bureau of Meteorology working on the island, many of whom travel along the coasts and slopes as part of their professional duties.