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Environment and Climate Change – Threatened Species Recovery Plans and Strategy

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Wednesday, 8 June 2022

Tags: Threatened Species, Environment

Dr WOODRUFF - Minister, just before the federal election, the federal Environment minister, Sussan Ley, quietly removed the legislated requirement for 176 threatened species and habitats to have recovery plans prepared for them. This is a quite incredible, devastating act against environmental protection widely decried by thousands of people who made responses to the threatened species committee before she made that decision. The Tasmanian devil was one of the species that would no longer require a recovery plan. I understand the Labor Government's Tanya Plibersek is looking into the matter. Are you going to reach out to her and recommend that all of those recovery plans be legislated as they were?

Mr JAENSCH - Dr Woodruff, I am aware of the decision made by the federal minister prior to the election to revoke a series of recovery plan decisions for species and communities listed as threatened under the EPBCA, including the devil. This decision is a matter for the Australian Government, then and now. In the case of the devil, I note that the species was listed as endangered under the EPBCA in 2009 and no recovery plan has been made or adopted in that time. I understand that the reversal decision, which considered feedback from extensive consultation and advice from the Threatened Species Scientific Committee, was based on the view that an Australian recovery plan would not provide significant additional conservation benefit to the existing mechanisms. The dedicated Save the Tasmanian Devil Program is the Tasmanian Government's long-term commitment to managing the impact of devil facial tumor disease on our endemic and iconic species. This comprehensive program is science-based and adaptive and ensures that the appropriate research, monitoring and management actions are undertaken to protect the Tasmanian devil. This goes back to the comment that I made before that we understand that the decisions about what type of plan and who needs to be involved have to do with the particular circumstances of the species. I understand that a factor in the Commonwealth government's reasoning for its decision has to do with the -

Dr WOODRUFF - Doing the job of the business lobby, which has lobbied heavily the federal Liberal government department to get that outcome -

Mr JAENSCH - No, again, I reject your characterisation. The point is that you need the right tool for the job. Ehere we have species that move across jurisdictions in Australia like the migratory parrot species, they are quite a different proposition from the devil, which only occurs here and where there is a state-based instrument targeting management of that species differently. It might be a more appropriate response to its needs for management as a threatened species than a complex and expensive federal recovery plan process.

Dr WOODRUFF - Speaking about the right tool for the job, last year in May, your Liberal Government promised to develop a threatened species strategy at the election. There does not seem to have been any action so far on that. There is no information that has been published about it, I cannot see anything in the Budget to indicate that you are intending to do that. You also promised to deliver a wildlife impact action plan in conjunction with the TFGA; I see nothing in the Budget about that and there is no time line for that.

It is nice to make promises at elections to try to get a particular voting base, but if you are actually going to do something about threatened species, can you please tell us what - there is nothing in the forward Estimates. In your term of government, you have made no financial commitment at all to developing a threatened species plan or strategy, or a wildlife impact action plan. Are you going to do these things and by when are you going to do them?

Mr JAENSCH - Under the Threatened Species Protection Act 1995, the secretary is required to prepare a strategy for the conservation of threatened native flora and fauna, specifying the means by which the objectives of the act are to be achieved. This Government has committed $300 000 to undertake a comprehensive review of the existing Threatened Species Strategy, which was last updated in 2000.

The new strategy will be a contemporary and science-based framework to guide threatened species conservation and recovery in Tasmania. It will take account of contemporary knowledge, challenges and opportunities, and will help focus our collective efforts and resources to maximise outcomes for threatened species and communities. Although the original funding was committed for the last two years of the budget cycle, in recognition of the importance of this work and the time required to undertake meaningful consultation and engagement in its development, NRE Tasmania has already engaged a dedicated project manager to lead this work.

Dr WOODRUFF - It is a review of the 2000 strategy, which is is 22 years old?

Mr JAENSCH - It was last updated in 2000. This will be a comprehensive review of it. It is about time we did it and we have committed money to it, have brought it forward and we have a project manager leading that work now.

Dr WOODRUFF - What about the wildlife impact action plan that you also committed to at the election with the TFGA, which is so important for property-based game management plans, control techniques, wildlife monitoring -

Mr JAENSCH - You are talking to the wrong minister about that one because I am not the minister for wildlife.