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Environment and Communications References Committee
20/08/2019
Australia's faunal extinction crisis

DICKMAN, Professor Christopher, Councillor, Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales

[11:57]

CHAIR: Welcome. I understand that information on parliamentary privilege and the protection witnesses and evidence has been provided to you. I invite you to make a short opening statement and, at the conclusion of your remarks, the committee will ask you some questions.

Prof. Dickman : Thank you for the opportunity to be here to address what I think is a very important inquiry. It's a great privilege to be able to attend. The Royal Zoological Society has been around for about 140 years. Its aims are to try to ensure the conservation of Australia's endemic species and their habitats and to provide education for the public about those species and habitats. We know that there are well over 500 species of animals that are listed and many species are extinct. If you look at plants as well, the list extends well beyond the 500 or so animal species.

There is a lot of concern that species that are not on the list are also at risk. Some of these have been newly identified—species that became extinct in, for example, the early years of European settlement in Australia. We now have something like 34 or 35 species of native mammals that have become extinct in Australia in the last 225 to 230 years. That is by far the world's highest rate of extinction for mammals. It is something like the equivalent rate of extinction for the rest of the world combined. So we have a very unfortunate record.

There are many causes, and a lot of these were identified in the RZS submission. The primary cause is loss of habitat due to overzealous agriculture and the development of coastal areas where there is a burgeoning human population. There is also the threat of introduced species. Foxes and cats are among the predators. An emerging problem is deer and goats; they are becoming really problematic. In the past—and, to some extent, today as well—rabbits have been a real problem.

There are other factors as well. The inappropriate use of fire regimes has interacted with some of the other threats. When a fire goes through a habitat too frequently, it completely opens it up and you have then the opportunity for introduced predators to move in and attack the native fauna that remain. So it is an extinction crisis, certainly on land. I'm focused more on land than on the oceans. My own research focuses primarily on land based systems, but clearly the problems extend into the marine environment too.

One of the other things that are important to address is the effects of the extinctions. Many of the species that we're looking at are endemic to Australia. They occur nowhere else. This is particularly true among the terrestrial mammals. It's particularly true amongst the reptiles and the frogs. It is less so for the birds because they're more mobile and can move across the Torres Strait and further afield. Fish as well, of course, can move in the oceans. But the vast majority of the vertebrates are endemic. It's our responsibility, in other words, to look after them. There is nowhere else on the planet where these species occur.

If they do disappear, the consequences can range from trivial to really quite serious. Examples of species that are particularly important include engineer species such as the mid-sized digging marsupials that used to be widespread across the continent—species such as the bilby and the bettongs, which used to dig in the topsoil and turn over the topsoil. That would allow water to infiltrate after rain, which would refresh the water table rather than see the rain hit the soil and run off. The diggings would also provide little pockets of heterogeneity in the soil surface, and that in turn would allow organic materials—seeds and so on—to collect, providing for a much richer and more friable topsoil than we currently see in many areas. Many of these species now have either gone completely or they're confined to small areas in the south-west of the continent or pockets through the arid zone, such as with the bilby. So the consequences for the richness, the fertility, of the soil and our ability to use the soil have been compromised to probably quite a large degree by the demise of these species.

I could go on longer, but one last point I will make is that much of what we know has been inferred from historical records, because many of these species have gone historically. Our ability to trace and track the population trends of many species currently is not very good. We don't have very many long-term monitoring sites. In fact, the Long Term Ecological Research Network pretty much closed down a couple of years ago. To give one last example about the relative lack of monitoring: there are probably two long-term monitoring sites in Central Australia for land based species, the mammals and reptiles and so on. Both of these have been running pretty much on soft money. One that I run myself, in the Simpson Desert, has been running for 30 years on funding from the Australian Research Council. The other is Arid Recovery in South Australia, and that's funded partly with resources from BP. The only other long-term facility was CSIRO's arid zone research institute, which was closed some years ago. So, for 70 per cent of the continent, we have two long-term monitoring sites, which are being run by people because of their interest and not because of statutory requirements to do so. I think that's a situation that really does need to be looked at.

CHAIR: Thank you, Professor Dickman. I'll start off where you left off, with that monitoring. What's the cost of running a monitoring site?

Prof. Dickman : They vary. If they are locally based, depending on which fauna you want to monitor, it can be very cheap. It can be perhaps $100,000 a year if you're using remote cameras and going out once in a while to check the images on those cameras. If you're looking at Central Australian sites, unless you actually happen to live there, you've got the travel costs associated with getting out there. But it's probably in the order of hundreds of thousands dollars a year per site if you're to monitor the suite of vertebrate fauna.

CHAIR: Presumably, if you involve local Indigenous communities in that monitoring, then, yes, you wouldn't necessarily have to have people coming in from elsewhere to be doing that monitoring?

Prof. Dickman : Yes, absolutely.

CHAIR: What sort of network of sites should we have not only across the arid area but also more broadly across Australia?

Prof. Dickman : I'd like to suggest that we move away from threatened species as the key focus and perhaps focus more on bioregions. I forget the number of bioregions that have been identified across the continent—it's in the order of 80 or so. They've been defined on the basis of their various attributes—their topography, soil types, geology, and, to some extent, location and vegetation characteristics. A monitoring site in each bioregion would be a terrific start, and they would capture, particularly if they were properly located, threatened species that we would be interested in monitoring anyway.

CHAIR: So if you had 80 and they averaged at $100,000 each, you're talking about $8 million a year?

Prof. Dickman : Yes.

CHAIR: Can you comment on how that would then lift our knowledge about our animal species across the country?

Prof. Dickman : For many species it would lift our knowledge out of the realms of anecdotal evidence. For many species, we really don't have a good handle on what they're doing. You're getting it from indirect measures such as remote sensing—for example, if you know that particular species happen to occur in particular vegetation formations, you could look at using satellite imagery to see the extent to which these are still in place. Areas like the brigalow in New South Wales and Queensland have been greatly degraded over the years. There's not much monitoring going on in brigalow at all, but you can get an idea of brigalow specialist species that are likely to be around simply by the amount of brigalow that's left. So there's a lot of indirect measuring going on at present.

CHAIR: But, if you had these monitoring sites, you would have a massive increase in the knowledge of the species that are using these particular bioregions?

Prof. Dickman : Yes. I think we'd be in a much better position to be able to track populations of not just threatened species but also species across the board. Why that's important, if I can give a quick example, is the common brush-tailed possum. The common brush-tailed possum—that's its official name; it was given because it was once so common—remains common in the cities and in some areas of eastern Australia and Western Australia, but it used to have an almost pancontinental distribution; it used to occur in the deserts. The last populations went out of existence, as far as we can tell, in the MacDonnell Ranges near Alice Springs over the last probably three or four years. It's no longer a common species anywhere away from the coastal strips. It's a species where, had we been monitoring it adequately, we could have looked at the downward slide at a much earlier stage and perhaps intervened to save some of the smaller populations that have now gone.

Senator URQUHART: Do we know why that's happened, or is it something that, because we haven't monitored it, is really a guessing game?

Prof. Dickman : Thank you; it's a good question. We don't have the monitoring, but we can retrospectively look at where the species used to occur and where the last records were and then fit models to what the most likely causal factors might have been. Predation comes up as being one factor. In more open areas foxes and cats are likely to be much more detrimental to possums than they would be in forest environments. But climate change also seems to have been playing a role. Animals like the brush-tailed possum, until very recently, retreated back to refugia like the MacDonnell Ranges, north of Alice Springs. It's only recently, perhaps because the populations and refuges were so small, that they weren't able to continue. So you can get an idea, retrospectively, that had we been monitoring at the time we potentially would have been able to intervene to do something to stop the downward slide at a much earlier stage.

Senator URQUHART: We know that foxes, cats and other feral species are out there, and we know they're causing lots of damage to the environment in lots of different ways. How do we overcome losing species when we're maybe not doing enough to control feral species—or are we doing enough to control feral species?

Prof. Dickman : I think it's fair to say that it is a patchwork management process. In Western Australia there is a program called Western Shield that drops tonnes of 1080 poison baits over a very large area. I think it's in the order of four million hectares of land. That single program, bizarrely through dumping poison from an aeroplane, has probably been responsible for the return from the brink of extinction of species like the numbat, bettongs, the common brush-tailed possum, rock-wallabies—a whole range of species that were going down the gurgler up until the 1970s or early 1980s. Since the program started, many of these species have recovered.

Senator URQUHART: Is that WA program for feral dogs in particular, or is it aimed at foxes, dogs and cats?

Prof. Dickman : It's aimed very much at the fox. It will take out wild dogs as well, but for cats you need to tweak the baits you're using to persuade them to eat them. They much prefer live prey.

Senator URQUHART: Right. So is there an argument then for that to be considered—a program for feral animals—when you're looking at endangered species?

Prof. Dickman : Yes, I think there is. Some of the most successful conservation programs for species that are very susceptible to fox and cat predation have been to put those species on islands where the predators don't occur, or into fenced exclosures.

Senator URQUHART: Macquarie Island is a good example.

Prof. Dickman : Yes, that's right.

CHAIR: But you need the combination of getting rid of the predators, the pest animals, and protecting their habitat.

Prof. Dickman : It's both.

CHAIR: I know in discussions about our animal extinction crisis it's often presented as, 'Let's get rid of the feral animals,' and the focus on the habitat is lost.

Prof. Dickman : That's right. I think it absolutely has to be a combination of protection of habitat and looking at the other threatening processes, and introduced predators are up there amongst the most important.

CHAIR: In your submission you talked about the concept of 'extinction debt'. Could you explain that concept for the committee.

Prof. Dickman : When you have a large area of habitat that becomes fragmented by roading, housing or agriculture—whatever it happens to be—you're left with smaller fragments of habitat. The species that used to occur over the larger area become, in the first instance, confined to these small fragments, and if those fragments are too small to sustain their populations then over time they'll become extinct. The larger species with bigger habitat and area requirements will most likely become extinct first, and over time you'll progressively lose the smaller species. So it's an extinction debt in the sense that extinction does occur, not necessarily instantly at the time of the fragmentation but over periods of time, simply because the small fragments are no longer big enough to sustain the populations.

CHAIR: Over the longer term.

Prof. Dickman : That's right.

CHAIR: Using the example of the koala, your submission estimates that koalas could be extinct in New South Wales by, I think you say, 2050 on the basis of that extinction debt. Could you talk through your evidence as to why that's a pretty alarming prospect.

Prof. Dickman : It is. There are a number of lines of evidence. Koalas are probably one of the better surveyed species in New South Wales, so we have an idea about their population trends. To a large extent they're going down, in some areas much more quickly than others. In the Pilliga forest, for example, only 20 years ago the koala population would have numbered in the thousands. Recent surveys, in the last three or four years, have found that populations are much reduced. I can't tell you the exact numbers, but they are greatly reduced compared to the thousands of only 20 years ago. That's probably due to climatic factors.

On the other side of the state, in the coastal areas, a lot of koala habitat that is particularly important for them has been fragmented by housing and roads, and it's being cut up into smaller and smaller bits. It is unlikely that koalas will survive in many of these small fragments, simply because you need bigger populations that can sustain random mortality events like koalas being killed on the roads and by dog attacks. Small populations, in small fragments, don't have that flexibility to persist.

Senator FAWCETT: I'm interested in that comment. You're probably well aware that in my home state of South Australia we have a very contentious issue at the moment about the koala population on Kangaroo Island. They're not native to Kangaroo Island. There were 18 introduced to the island in 1920. There are now over 50,000, on an island with fairly extensive agriculture and road infrastructure et cetera. They have multiplied out of control. They are literally eating themselves out of their own habitat. I am interested in your comment that small populations can't recover in any environment, given that example. What's unique about KI that can't be replicated in other places? The second question I have, as we ponder what to do about this burgeoning population—there are sterilisation programs; there's talk of a cull; some people are saying we should move numbers to the east coast to supplement populations; and others are saying that they're a different breed, they're territorial and it won't work—is: do you have any opinion on how we resolve that overbreeding situation that exists on Kangaroo Island?

Prof. Dickman : In the first instance, I think the area provided by Kangaroo Island is probably much larger than many of the fragments that are left. I think it's about 4,400 square kilometres or in that sort of order. Would that be right?

Senator FAWCETT: I'd have to check that. I can't tell you off the top of my head.

Prof. Dickman : I think it is fairly large, whatever the number might be, in comparison with many of the fragments that are left by the various fragmentation processes on the east coast. It's probably as large a block of habitat as you'd find in many national parks on the east coast, even when you've taken out the agricultural areas in the eastern part of the island. In terms of what we do about it, that's a particularly tricky one.

Senator FAWCETT: We know!

Prof. Dickman : Sterilisation won't work. It would have to be done on a very large and very long-term basis, I think, to make inroads into the population. That probably leaves culling as the main option. Although that might be desirable from a purely conservation point of view—in terms of conserving the forests and other species that might depend on the forest environment—I suspect that it wouldn't be palatable from other points of view, particularly from the point of view of tourism to Kangaroo Island. It's a very tough one.

Senator FAWCETT: I'm interested in your view particularly around the translocation question, because there are some groups who are saying that it's been tried in the past and, because koalas are territorial and because the gum leaves on the east coast apparently are different to the gum leaves they eat and because they're apparently a larger breed in South Australia than on the east coast, the translocation hasn't worked in the past. From your organisation's perspective, is it a viable option? Is it something that should be looked at? Or are we left with culling as the only viable option to preserve the population from starving itself out?

Prof. Dickman : I think culling is the only option. It's unpalatable, but I think it's the only one. The problem with translocation is that, if you're looking at moving koalas from Kangaroo Island into areas on the east coast of the mainland, you need to ask, firstly, why is the translocation necessary? Why is an otherwise potentially suitable area of habitat devoid of koalas now? What is it about that habitat that makes it unsuitable? Did koalas once occur there? If they did, what are the threatening factors that have reduced the population to zero such that a translocation could be considered?

Senator FAWCETT: My understanding is that chlamydia is a large threat to a lot of the east coast koalas.

Prof. Dickman : It is, and I think it's primarily a consequence of the fragmentation process. As koala populations become fragmented and confined to smaller areas, so the amount of habitat that's available to them and perhaps the number of good quality food trees becomes diminished, they become stressed, and, as a consequence, more susceptible to readily transmissible diseases like chlamydia. In much larger populations on the mainland—in parts of Victoria, for example—where their numbers haven't really got out of hand, chlamydia isn't so much a problem.

Senator FAWCETT: One of the arguments that's used against culling or sterilisation on Kangaroo Island is the fact that they're chlamydia free and therefore could be the 'saviour' of Australia's koala population, but what you're saying is that that is not actually necessarily a valid argument to preserve or relocate?

Prof. Dickman : My understanding would be that any koala is potentially susceptible to chlamydia. So, if Kangaroo Island koalas were moved to habitats where they were susceptible to chlamydia, they would be able to pick it up. In other words, there's nothing genetically hardwired about the KI koalas that would make them—

Senator FAWCETT: Sure.

CHAIR: To summarise: essentially, you're saying that the reason the koalas are declining on the east coast is the lack of habitat and the fragmenting of it into smaller and smaller bits, so removing suitable habitat for them?

Prof. Dickman : Yes, I think that's correct. It's habitat fragmentation—loss of large areas of habitat—and then, in some ways, the secondary factors, such as chlamydia moving into and affecting stressed populations; dog attacks; cars. Koalas will try to cross roads, of course, when their feed trees run out.

CHAIR: So, unless you actually protect that habitat and create the connectivity, translocating koalas is just going to lead them to have the same outcomes as the koalas that have already gone?

Prof. Dickman : Yes, I think that's a good summary.

CHAIR: You were very accurate with your estimate of Kangaroo Island's area. It's 4,405 square kilometres, so Google tells me! So it's quite a large area, compared with the fragmented areas that koalas are trying to hang on in, in New South Wales.

Prof. Dickman : Yes.

Senator Marielle SMITH: I just want to take you back to our first line of questions around the long-term monitoring of species. You mentioned that there had been a decline in that monitoring. What accounts for that decline? And how was that monitoring undertaken before? Was there something which was funded by governments? Was it funded privately? And why did that funding dry up? Why did the monitoring sites dry up?

Prof. Dickman : Much of the funding, from what I understand, came from state governments, and much of that funding has dried up. State governments seem to have other priorities that mean that monitoring is a low priority. In New South Wales, as one example, the most recent State of the environment report gets all of its indicators of faunal trends from what has been listed by the scientific committee in New South Wales. The scientific committee in New South Wales is a committee of people drawn from different institutions, and their role is to keep an eye on the status of species that occur in New South Wales. Often, the submissions come in from the public or ad hoc from organisations with an interest, but there's just not the opportunity for a systematic overview. So species get listed or taken off according to the criteria that the scientific committee works under, and that is pretty much the sole information available in New South Wales on which to base trends in what fauna are doing, which I think is abysmal. It is just disgraceful.

Senator Marielle SMITH: So to reinstate this and for this to work effectively, would you like to see federal government oversight or intervention in these long-term monitoring sites, or do you think this is something that could go back into the hands of state governments, just with a policy shift or a priority shift?

Prof. Dickman : I think that some sort of statutory requirement, if it were possible at the Commonwealth level, that compelled states to carry out monitoring, with or without assistance from the Commonwealth—and I'm not quite sure how these things might work—but something that was actually compelling state governments to carry out the monitoring would be very helpful, and, as I mentioned earlier, perhaps in the various bioregions that occur within the respective states and territories.

Senator URQUHART: I just want to summarise that. So the independent scientific committee makes decisions that aren't based on science—is that a true or an accurate observation of mine?

Prof. Dickman : No, I don't think so.

Senator URQUHART: Okay. But they make them with not enough information?

Prof. Dickman : If I could clarify perhaps—

Senator URQUHART: Yes, sure.

Prof. Dickman : What happens is that the scientific committee can make its own determinations of species that it thinks need to be listed or taken off the list, and it responds to applications that come in from the outside, from interested parties, suggesting that species or communities or populations should be listed or not. But, in terms of having a systematic overview, it's very difficult for the committee to keep a watching brief on all fauna and flora across the state, and it really is dealing only with threatened species anyway. If there were monitoring in place that could identify species that were declining rapidly or shrinking in range that weren't on the list, then that might ring the alarm bells to signal that we should think about intervening to do something.

Senator URQUHART: Great. Thank you.

Prof. Dickman : I'm sorry if I gave the impression that it was not based on science.

Senator URQUHART: No, no, that's fine. That's why I wanted to clarify that, because I wasn't sure whether I was correctly hearing the process that you were talking about. That has clarified it. Thanks.

Senator FAWCETT: I will go to something in your submission in a minute, but I'm just trying to get my head around my lived experience of Kangaroo Island, which is that—post the war and all the soldier settlement blocks et cetera—there is extensive agriculture and lots of fragmentation of natural bushland. I've just been having a quick look through one report from the environment department of South Australia, and some of the native eucalyptus are down to 7,000 hectares all up, and a lot of that is fragmented around the island. I'm just trying to understand why we've got such a thriving koala population in a relatively small area—it's 7,000 hectares—compared to the national parks in New South Wales. I'm trying to understand: what is it that we have there that is allowing them to thrive, whereas, on the east coast, with potentially larger areas, albeit fragmentation in other places, the population has been decimated? There's not a causality, it appears, between just the fragmentation and limited area of natural growth. Could you offer a comment on that?

Prof. Dickman : Without knowing what evidence is available, I could make three comments. The first is that it is perhaps not what Kangaroo Island has but what it hasn't that makes a difference. It probably has lower traffic volume and less road than many parts of the mainland, so car strike and road-death mortality may be less as a consequence. The second is that there are no wild dogs, or fewer wild dogs—I think that's correct; you certainly don't hear very much about that. The third possibility is that, in many areas on the mainland, where koalas currently occur is in the leftover forests that are on poorer soils that weren't so usable for agriculture. My understanding is that, at least on the western part of Kangaroo Island, much of the remaining forest still occurs, with much of that being on fairly fertile soil, and, where you have soil fertility, it translates into more nutritious leaves and that allows higher density populations of koalas to occur. So there are three comments, but again, as I've mentioned, I'm not certain of the evidence base.

Senator FAWCETT: Sure. Your submission is the only one I've read, actually, that goes to some of the false claims around extinction, and you refer particularly to kangaroos. I have been up in the pastoral lands of South Australia within the last 12 months and have seen the impacts of drought and the overpopulation of kangaroos. Literally, there are thousands of kangaroos that are starving and dying due to a lack of food. Certainly, any concept of extinction is flawed. The reality is that constraints on pastoralists and others culling and controlling kangaroo populations are leading to immense suffering for kangaroos. Given the narrative that exists—and has a basis in fact in so many cases—where we have an outlier like this, what's your advice on how we should encourage the public and groups who are concerned about environmental issues to realise that the management of native species such as kangaroos is needed, particularly in the pastoral areas of South Australia?

Prof. Dickman : I have two comments here. One is that I think you're absolutely correct that the majority of the larger kangaroo species are not at any risk of extinction at all. In New South Wales something like two million kangaroos are shot each year, partly for culling to reduce the total grazing pressure and, to some degree, for supplying meat and other products.

Senator FAWCETT: Except that various groups have convinced international markets that we're culling kangaroos to the point of extinction and therefore they shouldn't buy the meat, which is compounding the real problem.

Prof. Dickman : I think it is. I think the focus there is completely on the wrong issues. There are small kangaroos, like rock wallabies, that are not doing very well at all, and for other reasons—loss of habitat and particularly fox predation in those cases. For the big kangaroos there is really no problem in terms of extinction as far as all of the evidence of which I'm aware would point.

Senator FAWCETT: How do we change the narrative in our community such that people actually support the management of those populations, the use of them for things like meat; and the overseas markets and, indeed, our own markets think this is a viable, renewable resource for a very healthy, lean meat?

Prof. Dickman : It's an interesting one. Perhaps I could answer the question in a slightly different way, by suggesting that what could be said to be the overabundance of kangaroos in many areas, particularly pastoral areas, is a consequence of keeping dingoes out of the system. If dingoes were allowed back into the system kangaroo numbers would be much reduced. This would also have the effect of allowing much more grass to grow, so livestock—sheep and cattle—would have much more food to eat. Of course, because the dingo fence is there to keep dingoes out of New South Wales and southern parts of South Australia, there are alternatives that are used all over the world, but hardly here, that could be used instead. The one that really stands out as an alternative is the use of guardian dogs, or guardian animals more generally. Where these have been used in Australia, in the relatively few cases, the cost-benefit analyses that have been done show that they're incredibly effective. After you've come up with the capital cost of buying the guardian animals, paid the vet bills, paid the food bills and spent the time to bond them properly to the flock that you're interested in looking after, you can often get the return on that investment within a year. The review looked at properties, from fairly small ones to really big ones out, in western Queensland.

Senator FAWCETT: Would you be able to provide a reference to that to the committee on notice?

Prof. Dickman : I'll do that.

Senator FAWCETT: That would be very useful.

CHAIR: I want to follow up on your comments on pages 3 and 4 of your submission on the inadequacy of our current Commonwealth laws, in particular the use of offsets in biodiversity conservation. You say it's pernicious. Could you expand on that and the problems of devolving responsibility to the states?

Prof. Dickman : With some of the offsets we've seen operating in the past, where a prime piece of, for example, coastal forest has been targeted for development, an area of land that's much less suitable has been targeted as the offset. The problem is that it's not like for like. An area that is a very good quality habitat for a range of species is taken away and an area of habitat that may be larger but is of a much lesser quality is supposedly protected in its stead. Until we know something more about the biology of the species that we're trying to protect in these areas, offsetting seems to be a policy that looks good on paper but may not work in the real world.

CHAIR: And on the issue of devolving responsibility to the states?

Prof. Dickman : I'd like to see stronger Commonwealth oversight. I think some of the states have really not done the right thing in recent years. I can cite two examples. One was with the election of the government in Queensland in 2012 that rescinded many of the conservation and environmental laws that had been built up over previous years. This led to an explosion in land clearing, with more than 300,000 hectares a year being cleared. In New South Wales, similarly, a couple of years ago the Biodiversity Conservation Act was put into force. That rescinded the Threatened Species Conservation Act and the Native Vegetation Act, which had previously worked, at least to some degree, to reduce the amount of inappropriate land clearing or large-scale land clearing that had taken place. Although the government has yet to release the official data, a report from the Auditor-General indicated that land clearing in one focal area in northern New South Wales had roughly trebled since the passage of the new law.

CHAIR: This morning the National Parks Association presented the latest figures on what was known about land clearing. To conclude: in terms of reforming our Commonwealth laws, you would like to see laws that enable weak state laws to be overridden, essentially, where you've got threatened species?

Prof. Dickman : Yes. I think the EPBC Act had the potential to do that. I think it is under consideration at the moment for a revisitation, a revamping. If there were possibilities to strengthen the EPBC Act, I think it would be excellent to try to make sure there were a consistent approach to conservation and appropriate land and sea management by the states—with sea management going out to the three-kilometre limits.

CHAIR: Thank you very much for your evidence to us today.

Prof. Dickman : Thank you. I really appreciate the opportunity to come to speak.

Proceedings suspended from 12 : 37 to 13 : 22