Dr WOODRUFF question to MINISTER for ENVIRONMENT and CLIMATE CHANGE, Mr JAENSCH
Freedom of information documents reveal your department refused to sign the critically endangered swift parrot recovery plan unless it was edited to remove 'an imbalance in narrative around native forest logging'. Documents show your department demanded references to native forest logging and intensive silviculture as the greatest threats to the swift parrots' survival be struck out of the plan.
You clearly understand, because your department demanded the words be removed, that Tasmania's forest practices system has failed to protect all breeding habitat for the parrot and is increasing its extinction threat. What knowledge did you have and what role did you play in this scandalous distortion of threats to the swift parrots' survival? Is it not true that you, your predecessor and colleagues are happy and actively contributing to the swift parrots' extinction to further your Government's native forest logging agenda?
Mr Speaker, I thank Dr Woodruff for her question. I do not thank her for the little personal insults she weaves into all of her questions in this place. There is a lot of that that goes on.
Dr Woodruff - What about the parrot?
Mr SPEAKER - Order.
Mr JAENSCH - It is one thing to ask a question of a minister and a minister has a responsibility to provide answers under scrutiny here. Questions from the Greens and others always come with a little spike which goes to a person's motivations and character. I do not think that makes this a safe workplace. I ask them to stop and just ask questions.
Dr Woodruff - Which bit of that question was personal?
Mr JAENSCH - Please stop making it personal, like you just said, and please -
Dr Woodruff - All right, then please start taking your responsibilities seriously as a minister of the Crown.
Mr SPEAKER - Order, Dr Woodruff.
Mr JAENSCH - Thank you, Mr Speaker. Our Government is strongly committed to protecting swift parrots. Last year our budget provided $1 million over four years for swift parrot recovery actions. This builds on other actions we have taken to protect swift parrots, including a project to trial methods of trapping sugar gliders. The success of the trial allowed NRM South to leverage further funding from the Australian Government of $1 million to continue this important work. The swift parrot public area management agreement signed between Sustainable Timber Tasmania and -
Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Mr Speaker, under standing order 45, relevance. The question was: what knowledge did the minister have of this move to have logging removed from the swift parrot recovery plan? We do not need the propaganda.
Mr SPEAKER - Ms O'Connor, as you are well aware, I cannot tell a minister what to say. In the preamble of the question it went to the swift parrot, so I will allow the minister to answer the question as he sees fit - without further interjection, I might add.
Mr JAENSCH - Thank you, Mr Speaker. I note that the question Dr Woodruff asked me, 'Are you happy that your Government is happily driving the swift parrot to extinction?' has that personal edge. You just do not need -
Dr Woodruff - It is a question. You can answer it.
Mr JAENSCH - I have a right to establish the Government's credentials in response to that slur and that is what I am doing.
Dr WOODRUFF - Point of order, Mr Speaker. This is not about the minister's right. It is about the Government's censoring of the impact of native forest logging on swift parrots.
Mr SPEAKER - Order. Please resume your seat. It was not a point of order. Just because you stand does not mean you are allowed to interject. If any more of that goes on, I will ask you to leave.
Mr JAENSCH - The Swift Parrot Public Area Management Agreement signed between Sustainable Timber Tasmania and Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment Tasmania in 2020 for the southern forests sets aside 9300 hectares of swift parrot nesting habitat from wood production. There is a whole suite of factors impacting the long term survival of the swift parrot in Australia. The most important thing is that we are allocating resources. We are acting on priorities from the recovery plan, which has been in the process of review with the Australian Government. We will continue to invest in measures to minimise impacts on the swift parrot.
In relation to the document and the process of editing or preparation of advice that Dr Woodruff was referring to, I do not have advice in front of me in regard to that.
Dr Woodruff - Will you bring it to parliament?
Mr JAENSCH - I will seek further advice on those matters, and report in due course.
Mr JAENSCH - Mr Speaker, on indulgence, I have some further information to add to a question that I provided before. Thank you.
In response to Dr Woodruff's question earlier, Mr Speaker, I said that I would seek further advice from my department. I have received further advice and I will present it here.
I am advised that on 14 April 2022 the Australian Government Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water released information in response to a freedom of information request. This included various versions of a draft national swift parrot recovery plan prepared between 2018 and 2021 which contained comments provided by the department and other relevant state government agencies.
It is appropriate that the Department of Natural Resources and Environment Tasmania, which has key responsibilities in relation to the implementation of management and recovery actions identified in the recovery plan, provides input and feedback to Australian Government officials in the development of the draft plan. Comments have also been sought from other relevant government entities, including the Department of State Growth, as appropriate.
I am advised that the recommended changes to the draft recovery plan by my department were to provide a balanced approach that acknowledged cumulative and diverse threats across the species range but did not diminish the impacts of forest harvesting. My department, and I as minister, have not received a final version of the recovery plan and hence it is currently not clear how the departmental and other stakeholder comments have been incorporated into the final plan.