National Threatened Species Day
September 11, 2017
I rise today to acknowledge National Threatened Species Day and the importance of that event for my electorate of Durack. You may not be aware that my electorate has the largest number of threatened species in Australia. There are some 360 different species considered to be vulnerable or on the brink of extinction. That is a very frightening number. More frightening, though, is that Australia-wide the number is 1,700. This federal government takes conservation work seriously but realises that there needs to be a balance between the needs of all land users and action to protect plant and animal species extinction. This is a tight balance, but it is one I believe can be achieved.
With the appointment of the Threatened Species Commissioner some two years ago, we took a step in the right direction in terms of raising the profile of conservation efforts, and through the $1 billion we contribute to the National Landcare Program. Also, only last week we announced another $3 million for 17 different projects, with respect to the Threatened Species Recovery Fund. I believe we're on our way to stopping the high rates of extinction that we've seen over the last 200 years.
I'm very pleased this government has committed to the funding levels of our Landcare program for another seven years, which will provide continuity and confidence for our natural resource management groups going forward. We don't want to see our wombats, koalas or bilbies go the same way as the Tasmanian tiger, and we do not want future generations to think of these animals with the same strange mythology with which we view the Tasmanian tiger.
It is important to encourage conservation efforts, and I have stood up in this House many times and spoken about the importance of conservation, particularly with respect to the work of a successful Indigenous ranger program, of which I have many throughout my electorate. I'm very pleased to see the work that some of my local NRMs are doing in Durack and their list of achievements is incredibly impressive: from cane toad management in the Kimberley, to wild dog fence work in the Murchison, to marine debris clearing in the Mid West. There is some really vital work being done by these groups in our regional communities, and I want to congratulate them. Most pleasingly, their efforts are assisting to bring land back from the brink.
Through sustainable management of land, we can turn dry, lifeless land into usable land for our agricultural industry, which, as you will know, Mr Deputy Speaker Buchholz, has just become our No. 1 industry in terms of GDP growth—a big shout-out to the farmers in Durack. I support the farmers of this country, which is why I strongly support the NRM network and the hard work that they do in maintaining sustainable land and workable land in this country.
In the time remaining, I want to acknowledge the WA Threatened Species Forum, which was held in Geraldton last Friday and at which I happened to be a keynote speaker. This event was proudly supported by the NRM WA network, which is made up of seven regional NRM groups. It was a fantastic event, and I want to congratulate them for all the fabulous speakers they had. I enjoyed myself very much, including all the wildlife.