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ENVIRONMENT—WETLANDS

Senator Siewert, also on behalf of Senator Hanson-Young, pursuant to notice of motion not objected to as a formal motion, moved general business notice of motion no. 339—That the Senate—

 (a) notes that 2 February 2009 was World Wetlands Day, a date that marks the anniversary of the signing of the Convention of Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Convention) in Ramsar, Iran, on 2 February 1971;

 (b) welcomes the release on World Wetlands Day of the 2007 Ramsar Snapshot Study noting the significant delay since its completion in December 2007;

 (c) calls on the Government to implement its recommendations and, in particular, to establish regular systematic reporting on wetland health and management;

 (d) notes that the National report on the implementation of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands to the 10th meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties in Korea, during October 2008, identified that the greatest challenges Australia faces in delivering on our international wetlands commitments are:

  (i) providing adequate volumes of water to Ramsar sites, and

  (ii) securing sufficient human and financial resources to implement the convention consistently and effectively;

 (e) calls on the Government to act immediately to address these challenges by providing sufficient resources for planning, management, monitoring and enforcement and by ensuring sufficient volumes of water are set aside to maintain wetland health and ecosystem resilience;

 (f) expresses concern at the dire state of wetlands in the Murray-Darling Basin, noting that with up to 90 per cent of the systems' original wetlands are already lost and the majority of those remaining are highly stressed, their ability to maintain the health of the river, protect water quality and deliver ecosystem services is severely threatened (Inland Rivers Network, Wetlands for Our Future 2008 report); and

 (g) calls on the Government to act to secure sufficient water within the Murray-Darling system to maintain its health and resilience, to prioritise ecological flows to threatened and degraded wetlands in the basin, and to ensure, in particular, that the ecological character of the Coorong and Lower Lakes is not changed irretrievably by their flooding with salt water.


Statement by leave: The Minister for Human Services (Senator Ludwig), by leave, made a statement relating to the motion.

Question put and passed.