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The Critically Endangered Swift Parrot


Rosalie Woodruff MP

Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Tags: Swift Parrot, Threatened Species, Native Forest Logging, Planning

The Critically Endangered Swift Parrot, Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP, 14 October 2020

 

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise to speak about a fantastic event I attended last Saturday which was a very spirited and passionate rally of people on the parliamentary lawns to protect the critically endangered swift parrot.

That special beautiful little parrot is one of the most charming, whimsical and colourful parrots in the world. It is certainly the fastest little parrot in the world. Sadly, five years ago on Saturday it is now listed as critically endangered. It was hoped with the listing of that parrot as being critically endangered that that would innovate this Government into swinging behind the sorts of recovery plan needed to protect the swift parrot but the rally of people on Saturday was because it is clear that the situation for the swift parrot is going downhill. It is on the head of this Liberal Government and its policies and its continued destruction of the habitat of the swift parrot that that bird remains extremely threatened. The swift parrot is on the brink of extinction. We are lucky to be home to that little bird. It flies here every year from lower mainland states to feed on flowering nectar of large gums and to breed in the hollows of very large gums.

Thanks to our glorious forests, particularly in the southern forest and the eastern forests of Tasmania, that bird has made its way for untold millennia to Tasmania to continue its breeding and survival. It is a gift that it visits us. We have a responsibility to look after it. We know that every single nesting tree matters and every single flowering gum that the swift parrot feeds from also matters.

It moves round. As we would know, flowering gums flower in different places in different years. So it is more important than ever that all of those trees the swift parrot uses are retained but instead this Government has been changing planning schemes apace and doing everything it can to make land clearing easier. It has been weakening federal protections and it has been working with the federal government to create a one-stop shop to weaken our environmental laws.

We have a minister for the Environment who is signing on the blocking of tree hollows so that the swift parrot will not be in those trees when they are chopped down for road widening up in the north-east but in so doing, it is a death by a thousand cuts for that little parrot because if they cannot nest in the tree hollows then they will not be able to breed. There will be no chicks and there will be no generations of swift parrots. Day-on-day decisions are being taken by the minister for the Environment to hasten the extinction of this bird.

The front line in the war on wildlife of this Government has to be the continual spoon-feeding of the mendicant native forest logging industry. When the Liberals came to government just before the swift parrot was listed as critically endangered they came with a promise to ramp up forestry logging. We have seen loggers back into carbon-rich biodiverse old-growth forests and many of those forests are a critical habitat for the swift parrot.

On top of that the 2019 fires destroyed an enormous amount of habitat in southern forests that the swift parrot would have nested in or fed from but that did not stop Forestry Tasmania from going into those forests. In fact, they have gone into the southern forest with a vengeance since the 2019 fires.

The Liberals have tried to legitimise these smash-and-grab logging operations that they endorse by attempting to get Forest Stewardship Certification. The Government has tried twice since they have been in this place in government, and they have failed twice. Why is that? Because they keep logging swift parrot habitat.

This Government will never get Forest Stewardship Certification while it continues to log this swift parrot habitat, but thank goodness we have the organisations that were there on Saturday, like the Bob Brown Foundation, Forestry Watch, the Wilderness Society, TreeProject, Extinction Rebellion, Doctors for the Environment, the North East Bioregional Network -

Dr Broad - They are all the same thing.

Dr WOODRUFF - Dr Broad is piping up that they are all the same. He should get out more. He should meet some of these people. Has Dr Broad met and spoken to the two wonderful ANU researchers who are here in Tasmania studying the swift parrot habitat, Dr Dayanne Stryanavic and Dr Matthew Webb? They are the hallmarks of the difficult bird group. They call themselves difficult to study, and difficult it seems to save under the policy of this Liberal Government.

We need to have a robust planning system. We need strong federal laws so that we have independent checks and balances. We reject the move to establish bilateral agreements with the federal government that would reduce the federal government's role as taking approvals under the EPBC act. Most of all, most critically of all for the swift parrot habitat, we have to end native forest logging in Tasmania.

The Greens will not stop until we do everything we can to protect the swift parrot habitat, and we will fight with everything we have, because they are such special, colourful, beautiful little birds.