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Monday, 16 June 2003
Page: 11577

Senator Allison asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, upon notice, on 10 April 2003:

(1) Did the referral for the trial relocation of grey headed flying fox, provided by the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment, include details of the dispersal tactics currently being employed by the management of the Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens.

(2) Can a copy of that referral, dated 9 April 2002, be provided.

(3) Is Environment Australia monitoring this dispersal actively; if so, what are its findings; and (b) if not, why not.

(6) Is the Government aware that Professor Mike Archer, Director of the Australian Museum, Dr Les Hall, author of Fruit & Blossom Bats of Australia, Dr Carol Booth, Queensland Conservation Council, Dr Nicola Markus, Worldwide Fund for Nature, Dr Hugh Spencer, Director, Cape Tribulation Tropical Research, Dr Pamela Conder, author of With Wings on their Fingers, amongst other scientists and conservationists, have called for restrictions on bat dispersal on ethical and ecological grounds.

(7) Is the Government considering this call for any dispersal activity to be at least restricted to the period that lies outside the bats' mating, birthing and nursing period and that the bats must be undisturbed from 1 August to 1 May each year, irrespective of where they are roosting.

Senator Hill (Minister for Defence) —The Minister for the Environment and Heritage has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) Yes.

(2) The referral was published on the Environment Australia website for public comment on 9 April 2002 (no. 2002/638) and can be accessed via the Environment Australia website

(3) The referral, including proposed monitoring arrangements, and public submissions were carefully examined by the Commonwealth. A decision was made that the proposal is not likely to have a significant impact on the matters of national environmental significance, including the listed Grey-headed Flying Fox, protected under the EPBC Act, on 7 May 2002. The Victorian DSE is responsible for the overall program and is implementing a monitoring program. The Victorian RSPCA also actively monitors the program. Further details of the monitoring program can be obtained from the Victorian DSE.

(6) Yes.

(7) The dispersal program in the Botanic Gardens has been timed to avoid disturbing the camp during the most vulnerable breeding and nursing period.