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Wednesday, 27 November 1974
Page: 2823

Senator DEVITT (TASMANIA) - My question is directed to the Minister for Customs and Excise. From time to time the Minister has informed the Senate of the problem concerning illicit trafficking in Australian birds. Does the Department of Customs and Excise receive any co-operation from State fauna authorities in their investigations and has consideration been given to carrying out joint investigations into the problem?

Senator MURPHY -Yes, there is cooperation with the State fauna authorities. As a matter of fact I am able to inform the Senate that very recently and since some questions were asked in this House about the matter there have been some important developments. A joint exercise took place on 22 November and 23 November between officers of the National Fauna Squad of the Department of Customs and Excise and the State fauna authorities. This occurred at the commencement of seasonal activities in Australia when species of birds are most likely to be indiscriminately hunted and removed from their habitats to satisfy illegal demands. The investigations were conducted throughout Australia and involved the inspection of about 60 aviaries, including those in country areas as far afield as Mount Isa.

These aviaries were found to contain some 20,000 native birds, the majority of which were being kept in breach of State laws. Inquiries are continuing and it will be several weeks before a complete analysis of the investigations will be available. However, the results indicate the likelihood of charges being instituted against at least 12 persons involving some 2,000 birds. The offences include illegal trafficking, false documentation, illegal transfers interstate and unlawful possession of protected birds. Considerable intelligence has been obtained relating to unlawful trafficking at airports and seaports and the investigations will be intensified in non-control areas throughout Australia. The joint operations with the State fauna authorities were very good and demonstrated how mutual co-operation between these groups can provide a more effective control of the environment to reduce the incidence of unlawful movement and trafficking of fauna both within and without Australia.

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