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Threatened Species in Tasmania

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Thursday, 20 August 2020

Tags: Threatened Species, Swift Parrot

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin - Motion) - Madam Speaker, I move -

That the House take notice of the following matter: threatened species in Tasmania.

The world including Australia and Tasmania is confronting a wildlife extinction crisis. It has been the subject of extensive scientific research and it is now well documented that we are running out of time to protect habitat and species that are under threat around the world because of human activities.

Forests and the life that they sustain must be maintained for their intrinsic value and for the complexity of the web of life that sustains us human beings, our survival, our happiness, our spiritual wellbeing and our very essence of life .

Threatened species and species protection under this Government has been woefully poor at best. It has been moribund, essentially. We have had a series of Environment ministers that seem to be directly given the task of doing what they can to unstitch the protections that have been in place in Tasmania, poor as they have been, and things have got worse under this Liberal Government. What we have seen over the last six years is an attempt to try to spin a reality, one which pretends to be protecting species, while at the same time opening the doors even wider to development in national park and World Heritage areas, trashing places of global intrinsic value like takayna/Tarkine and attacks on the habitat and feeding opportunities for threatened species across the state.

In an attempt to try to gain some credibility on the national stage and get back global markets and consumer confidence and the confidence of the Tasmanian public, Forestry Tasmania, the Government's logging GBE, has been trying for the last six years in vain to get Forest Stewardship Council certification. The audit that is done to get FSC - and one was done in 2014 and another one was done last year - is really the only possible independent assessment we can have in this space of how this Government is tracking on its failure to protect rare and threatened and endangered species in Tasmania.

Forestry Tasmania's activities are essentially opaque to Tasmanians. All we can see is the reality of what is logged. All we can see are the coupes not standing that once housed habitat for swift parrots, Tasmanian devils, grey goshawks, masked owls and so many other beautiful species, including giant blue lobsters. We had an FSC report that was undertaken last year and we now know that the report was finalised in February and the Greens and conservationists have been asking: 'where is that report?' since then. The Government sat on it for six months. We put in a Right to Information request last Wednesday, and late on Friday we had a media release talking about a PAMA arrangement, which is a Public Authority Management Agreement, between two government departments - Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment, and Forestry Tasmania. This was an attempt to provide the latest veil of protection for the swift parrot and over the logging activities in southern forests. If you lift the veil you will see the same death and destruction underneath, and the same tragic clear felling of known swift parrot nesting and breeding habitat. After our staff members spent the whole of yesterday running around various government departments trying to access this document, the PAMA, we can see is it is nothing more than another document that pretends to be doing something when the Government is in effect doing nothing.

We know swift parrots do not reuse the nests within a three-year period. They do not fly from the mainland to Tasmania and use the same nest and eat food from the same trees every year. The Government has chosen to protect areas that it has identified in the southern forests. The whole of south-eastern Tasmania, according to the Government's own maps, is identified swift parrot nesting and breeding habitat. The whole of the East Coast and the southern forests ought to be protected. Instead, the PAMA selects a tiny area in the southern forests and seeks to set aside those places which are already essentially unavailable for logging. We are talking about Bruny Island which has not been logged now for some time. This is part of what has been included on the map.

Forestry Tasmania has given itself a 'get out of jail card'. If it sights a swift parrot in an area that has been logged, it must cease logging activities within 50 metres until the department makes a decision about whether operations can proceed in accordance with the agreement. If the department makes no decision, then logging operations can proceed at the next breeding season. It is a joke. It is not serious, and it will not help to protect the swift parrot or other animals.