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Swift Parrot

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Thursday, 22 June 2023

Tags: Swift Parrot, Native Forest Logging

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Mr Speaker, I rise to pay homage to the beauty of the swift parrot, its speed, its colour, its movement in the landscape. Anyone who has seen a swift parrot darting around and its beautiful camouflaging ability among its native vegetation, it makes the heart sing. It is a beautiful little bird and we are graced by its presence as it comes here year on year, season by season.

It does what all animals do to survive: it goes to where the food is. That is the beauty of the swift parrot. You are never really sure whether you are going to see it in the place that you saw it last year because the trees might not be flowering. That is what happens with our eucalyptus trees. They do not all flower at the same time and they do not flower every year. They flower in their own time, depending on the seasons and a whole lot of their own conditions because they, too, have their own lives they are living. What happens with the swift parrot is it moves around the landscape. That is exactly why it is under so much threat.

Mr Jaensch, the Minister for the Environment, gave that as the reason for why it is so hard to protect the swift parrot, because it just keeps moving around: every year it is in a different place. Actually, it is not the whole of Tasmania that the swift parrot flies to. It is not, as he would suggest, every tree in Tasmania that the swift parrot visits for nesting or foraging. There are particular trees in particular locations.

What we know, what he knows and what the Minister for Resources knows full well is that the north eastern Tiers, the area of Snow Hill which at the moment is being actively logged, is a particularly important area for the swift parrot. It has a high density of eucalypt trees that it needs for nesting and foraging. The evidence presented at the rally out the front today is the recording they have of swift parrot babies in a tree in that coupe that is being logged right now, at the same time as the bulldozer noises are in the background. We hear swift parrots, baby swift parrots -you can hear them loudly, they are obviously swift parrots, they make a very identifiable sound - at the same time as their homes are being bulldozed. It is the most appalling destruction of a critically endangered species that this Minister for the Environment, so-called, has the sworn duty to protect.

The minister likes to present the straw horse that it is actually the sugar gliders that are the problem. Yes, sugar gliders are one of the many problems. The problem of the sugar gliders pales into insignificance with the habitat destruction from Forestry Tasmania clearfelling and burning. There is clear evidence, presented in the book On the Edge of Extinction that Dr Jen Sanger was a part of preparing, that the removal of nesting and foraging habitat is the primary threat to the swift parrot. Sugar gliders occur in large numbers in areas that have been previously logged. As more of the forests are logged there is an increasing number of sugar gliders. The Minister for Resources is increasing the threat, not only from the loss of the trees but from the increasing number of sugar gliders that move into swift parrot nesting habitat when that happens.

There is a plan that can protect the swift parrots. The position of the Greens is to end native forest logging. We are upfront about that. We are in a global biodiversity and climate crisis. Our carbon-rich forests are essential for life on earth. They are what is helping us keep a hold on some type of liveable, habitable, planet. We do have to keep them.

Other people have pointed out that even were the Government to continue on with the madness of the native forest logging industry, it is not all of the land that Forestry Tasmania has as part of the forest production zone. The swift parrot protection plan that was prepared a few years ago identifies about 60 000 hectares needs to be protected to look after the swift parrot - 40 000 hectares of current habitat and 20 000 hectares of future habitat. That is equivalent to just seven per cent of forests on state land that are currently available for logging.

What the Government is doing, what this minister is doing, is actively seeking out swift parrot habitat to clear fell and log. It is a deliberate prescription to identify forests where swift parrot trees are and get rid of them. The reason is that they want to get rid of the swift parrot as fast as possible. What other construction could you have for why they keep repeatedly choosing these high-density swift parrot areas?