Senate debates

Tuesday, 27 February 2007


Treaty on the Protection of Migratory Birds

7:13 pm

Photo of Ian MacdonaldIan Macdonald (Queensland, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That the Senate take note of the document.

In moving this motion I want to again highlight the Howard government’s deep regard for conservation matters, particularly in relation to the welfare of migratory birds. The treaty between the Republic of Korea and Australia provides for the protection as far as is possible of certain migratory birds that travel from the very far north of the northern hemisphere right down to Australia. The annex to the treaty contains a list of the birds, some with exotic names, like the grey-tailed tattler, the red-necked stint, the sharp-tailed sandpiper and the lesser frigatebird, which I have actually seen and can recognise.

I also note one bird that is said to travel between Korea and Australia but that I think at this time last year was practically permanently in Australia, and that is a bird called the Gallinago hardwickii or—its common name—Latham’s snipe. I suggest that, as I say, that bird was very much in Australia at about this time in the last electoral cycle. I have looked through the list to see if the names of any of these birds could perhaps describe Mr Latham’s replacement, and I see a bird called the parasitic jaeger, and some may say that that is appropriate. There is another bird, the Annus cliepieta, which is more commonly known as the shoveler, and one might think from some of Mr Rudd’s announcements in recent times, as he tries to pretend that he is already Prime Minister and making grants of money, that he is doing a fair bit of shovelling himself.

This particular treaty does prohibit the taking, in both Korea and Australia, of migratory birds and their eggs, except in certain circumstances—for scientific purposes or for protecting persons and property, and for some other reasons. I think too little notice is taken of the fact that the Australian government goes to a great deal of trouble to work with countries in our sphere of influence to help with the environment, to help with these species which, whilst we would think they are native in many cases to Australia, obviously do travel very great distances. And we do in many ways—for instance, by looking after wetlands and thus looking after the habitat of these birds—do a lot of work to ensure their longevity and that they will forever remain a species on this earth.

These treaties are put together, I assume, with a very substantial input from the Department of the Environment and Water Resources, but obviously the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade are also very much involved in the compilation of these treaties. It is a small example, but I think a very important one, of the work Australia does in the environmental area that is not often recognised. And it is why I often claim that the Howard government is in fact the greenest government that this country has ever seen.

The contribution that the Howard government has made to our environment in so many ways surpasses anything that any other Australian government has done in the history of our nation. Speaking as a northerner, I can say that you only have to look at the great contribution we have made to the protection of the Great Barrier Reef to understand what a significant effort the Howard government has made. Our Natural Heritage Trust—a world leader in ways of protecting our environment—is a program that other nations are copying. And of course Australia was the first country in the world to have an oceans policy. I seek leave to continue my remarks later.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.