Threatened species list continues to grow

Published on Tuesday, 17 September 2019 16:25

Too many of our native species are on the brink. We have the worst record in the world when it comes to mammal extinctions. Yet we have a Coalition Government that doesn't believe in climate change, has weakened environmental protection and is cutting funds for conservation and land management.

Mr Wilson (4:25pm) — On 7 September in my electorate of Fremantle, and around Australia, we marked National Threatened Species Day. It's always an important occasion because Australian species, both flora and fauna, are under threat. Indeed, since the time of European settlement, more than 130 species have disappeared. They are gone forever. And the list of species threatened with extinction continues to grow. We're blessed by the fact that Australia is a megadiverse nation and continent—80 per cent of our mammals and 90 per cent of our trees, ferns and shrubs occur nowhere else on the planet—but we are facing an extinction crisis. The main causes of this crisis are destruction of habitat and the harm caused by invasive species. Our marine ecosystems are also under threat from climate change, overfishing and plastic waste.

Unfortunately, the government is intent on waging a war on so-called green tape more than it is on responding to the extinction crisis. It's responsible for the largest wind-back of marine protection in our history. It's cut Landcare funding. It's estimated that there are recovery plans for only 40 per cent of threatened species since the Coalition decided it was smart to remove the obligation to have such plans in place.

By contrast, Labor went to the recent election with a commitment to introduce a native species protection fund, with $100 million in funding, and to support work in tackling Australia's most critical endangered species through that fund. We also proposed a much-needed reform of Australia's environmental laws through the introduction of a new federal environment act.

In my home state of Western Australia, there are 678 animals and plants on the threatened species list. In my electorate of Fremantle alone, there are 54 threatened species and ecological communities, including the well-known and much-loved quokka, the Banksia Woodlands and Carnaby's black cockatoo. I want to thank local community groups such as Native ARC, the Cockburn Wetlands Centre and the Rottnest Foundation for their vital conservation work in my part of the world.

Last week I joined Murdoch University PhD student Anthony Santoro at the Beeliar Wetlands to learn about his work in seeking to protect the southwestern snake-necked turtle, which is at risk because habitat modification means turtles cannot lay their eggs without being exposed to both vehicles and fox predation. With the support of the City of Cockburn, Anthony has built and installed nesting cages along the wetland shore with the aim of providing safe nests and hatching grounds. It is exactly the kind of species-specific work we need to promote, and yet such efforts are being hampered by this government's cuts to programs like Landcare.

Too many of our native species are on the brink. We have the worst record in the world when it comes to mammal extinctions. Yet we have a Coalition Government that doesn't believe in climate change, has weakened environmental protection and is cutting funds for conservation and land management.

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AUTHORISED BY JOSH WILSON
AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY CANBERRA
© COPYRIGHT 2019 JOSH WILSON MP