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Thursday, 14 February 2008
Page: 436

Mr KELVIN THOMSON (9:53 AM) —I congratulate you, Madam Deputy Speaker, on your election to that high and important office. Australia is very fortunate to be blessed with a wonderful array and diversity of different bird species. Unfortunately, we have failed to look after this magnificent inheritance. We are something like the world record holder when it comes to species extinction. Over the past 200 years, 23 different bird species have become extinct. You might think that we would have learnt from this sorry chapter of our early history, but it is the fact today that there are many bird species which are either critically endangered or on the endangered list. Five are critically endangered and 34 are on the endangered list. The Carnaby’s black cockatoo, which is unique to the south-west of Western Australia, has had its numbers fall by at least 50 per cent over the past 45 years as a result of extensive clearing of native bushland. In the Kimberleys today there are fewer than 2½ thousand adult Gouldian finches. They are under threat as a result of altered fire patterns and grazing pressures.

You have the situation of the albatross around the world. There are 24 species. Twenty-three of these are listed as endangered. The global expansion of longline fishing has done them great harm. We also have in Australia migratory shorebirds. They astonish people around the world with their annual migrations, flying thousands of kilometres each year to respond to changing seasons and the beat of their internal drum. Unfortunately, they are dependent on each country through which they travel maintaining their living areas and breeding areas. They are only as strong as the weakest link in the chain.

There are things that we can do and need to do in order to protect our vanishing bird species. For example, we have not implemented the Action Plan for the Conservation of Migratory Shorebirds in the East Asian-Australian flyway: 2001-2005. We should do this. We should increase the number of sites involved in the action plan’s network. I mentioned the predicament facing the albatross as a result of longline fishing. We should be implementing and monitoring the threat abatement plan for seabirds and ensuring that the bycatch in nets in the trawl fisheries and longline fisheries does not threaten the existence of these magnificent and endangered seabird species.

Of course, the key to protecting wildlife is protecting their habitat. We have had far too much land clearing in Australia over the years, which has done our wildlife immense damage. We need to build on our national reserves system and make sure that there are corridors available for birds and other wildlife so that they can continue to survive in Australia and add beauty to our modern existence. (Time expired)