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Labor's plan to save our rare and endangered species [policy statement]

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Australian Labor Party

09/09/2004 .php

Labor's Plan To Save Our Rare And Endangered Species

Kelvin Thomson

Tuesday the 7 th September marked National Threatened Species Day.

In recognition, I am today announcing Labor's Plan to save our rare and endangered species.

Numerous independent scientific assessments show that many of our wonderful species of birds, plants and animals are struggling and need our help.

Labor's plan, which is attached, will ensure that, through action to halt landclearing, the Convention on Biological Diversity, action to protect migratory shorebirds, better protection for seabirds, and threat abatement and endangered species initiatives, we discharge our responsibility to protect rare species so that our children and their children can enjoy them as we have done.

Here in Yellingbo, the Friends of the Helmeted Honeyeater have been doing outstanding work to protect Victoria's state bird emblem, which is extremely rare and found only naturally in Yellingbo. A Latham Labor Government would support their efforts and help ensure the future of the Helmeted Honeyeater by committing an extra $174,000 over three years to plant indigenous plants, carry out new weed control on blackberries and other weeds, fox control, deer control, and fencing unfenced boundaries.

This money would come from the existing budget allocation for biodiversity protection.

Authorised by Tim Gartrell, 19 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600.


Australia has one of the most diverse collections of species, habitats and ecosystems of any nation on earth. However, our biodiversity remains under threat from human activities such as land clearing, the introduction of exotic species, the inadequacy of our national parks and reserves system, and some poor land management practices on both public and private land.

The extinction of plant and animal species over the past 200 years has been dramatic and our current rate of biodiversity loss is possibly one of the most significant challenges facing Australia.


Excessive land clearing threatens our biodiversity, land productivity, the sustainability of our rural industries and the health of our rivers. Yet the Howard Government has refused to recognise land clearing as a matter of national environmental significance.

Labor has committed to halt land clearing through bilateral arrangements with the States and Territories and, more broadly, will work through the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) to develop an Inter Governmental Agreement on sustaining our land base and protecting Australia's unique biodiversity.

This will deliver on Labor’s commitment to halt the year in year out decline in the quality and extent of Australia’s native vegetation.

John Howard promised to deliver on land clearing in 1996 and again in 1998 - and failed.

Last year the Howard Government reneged on its share of the $150 million agreement it had reached with Premier Beattie to help end broad-scale land clearing in Queensland so that National Party candidates in Queensland could attack the Beattie Labor Government on the land clearing issue.

In response Premier Beattie has now committed to funding the entire $150 million deal to end land clearing, proving yet again it is only Labor Governments that are genuine about protecting the environment.

Protecting our Biodiversity

Labor would commit to the Convention on Biological Diversity objective to “establish and maintain by 2010 for terrestrial and 2012 for marine comprehensive, effectively managed and ecologically representative national and regional systems of protected areas”.

A Latham Labor government strategy for saving our biodiversity will address threatening processes and protect specific ecological communities and species.

Labor will implement the Action Plan for the Conservation of Migratory Shorebirds - Asia Pacific 2001-2005 and increase the number of sites involved in the Action Plan’s Network.

Labor will take action to implement and monitor the Threat Abatement Plan for Seabirds and ensure, through the overdue Threat Abatement Plan Review, that the by-catch in nets from trawl fisheries and longline fisheries does not threaten the existence of endangered seabird species.

Labor is committed to protecting rare, vulnerable and endangered species and ecological communities, through the development and implementation of threat abatement and species recovery plans.

Labor will:

• Immediately ensure threatened species and community group listings are appropriate and consider all state listed communities. This will be followed by a systematic assessment of endangered, threatened and vulnerable communities and species with an obligation to list if identified as threatened;

• List the Coolibah-Black Box Woodlands of Central NSW as an endangered ecological community under the EPBC ACT;

• List the dugong as a vulnerable threatened species under the EPBC ACT and develop a national recovery plan for it;

• Commit to systematically identifying and listing key threatening processes to Australia’s biodiversity;

• Initiate development of threat abatement plans for each key threatening process as a more efficient approach to biodiversity conservation than ad hoc recovery plans for individual species; and

• Where a bioregion plan or threat abatement plan is impractical, develop and implement recovery plans for threatened species or communities.

For the last four years the Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC) has had over 500 threatened ecological communities under consideration - despite this only 2 communities have been listed since the last election. The Minister has assisted in delaying listings by a lack of transparency concerning when he receives advice, and what advice he receives, from the TSSC. Labor would make the TSSC advice public.

Funding for the Labor’s plan to protect our biodiversity will come from the Wildlife Protection and Trade, and Biodiversity Budget allocations.

Labor will be announcing further biodiversity initiatives during the course of the election campaign.