Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Mr Deputy Speaker, the Greens have just noticed a disturbing media release that was released a few hours ago by BirdLife Tasmania. Dr Eric Woehler states that Department of State Growth contractors have unlawfully blocked the nesting hollows of critically endangered swift parrots in six old blue gums on the upper east coast. Apparently, the Department of State Growth wants to construct an overtaking lane two kilometres south of St Helens that would involve removing these six large glorious blue gums if the project were approved.
A DA lodged with Break O'Day Council apparently has no approval and no permits have been issued to undertake work. It seems that DSG has pre empted approval from council on road construction and has decided to take the law into their own hands. Dr Woehler says:
Rather than waiting for the swift parrot breeding season to pass and for the necessary permits to be issued to them, DSG has proactively interfered with a critically endangered species by reducing the availability of suitable nesting sites.
We have not seen a photo of the blocked nests and I do not know how it was done. Apparently a Department of State Growth consultant's report recommended that the nesting hollows be blocked. I struggle to believe that a person could recommend such a villainous act against a critically endangered species. If it is true, what would the purpose be? Presumably only so that DSG can justify the remove of the blue gums by faking an assessment that would show there were no swift parrots that had been nesting in them this year. If that is true it shows a breathtaking level of contempt by a state agency for a bird that is on the brink of extinction. It should be working to protect them, not blocking their hollows and at a minimum it should uphold the law.
The law in Tasmania protects critically endangered swift parrots under the Threatened Species Protection Act and the federal EPBC Act. Any development proposal such as road widening for construction that would impact on the habitat and nesting of a critically endangered species would have to seek EPBC approval.
BirdLife Tasmania has called for the immediate removal of the blocks to those hollows and for the six large blue gums to be protected. That should naturally be the case and should occur immediately, but we want to hear from the minister and explain to Tasmanians whether this serious allegation is true and if it is, what he is going to do to fix this appalling act of destruction. It seems from Dr Woehler's evidence and the evidence of other people who live in the north-east coast that this is happening.
It is a crime against a critically endangered animal and it is shocking to hear that such a coarse and low-level petty act of vandalism could be undertaken by a person who is paid by a state agency for an attack against an animal.
We certainly hope that the minister will tell Tasmanians at the first opportunity what is happening here and he will act to protect the swift parrot.