Wildlife Protection Act (REGULATION OF EXPORTS AND IMPORTS) Senator Bartlett affirms the Democrats support of this legislation.

WILDLIFE PROTECTION (REGULATION OF EXPORTS AND IMPORTS) AMENDMENT BILL 1998 [1999]

Senator BARTLETT (Queensland) (1.55 p.m.)–I will be very brief, to enable the legislation to get passed in the four minutes we have remaining. Firstly, the Democrats support this legislation, the aim of which, of course, is to enable more successful prosecution of those who seek to use endangered species in various products. I note that the act creates a specific definition of convention listed species and, in a sense, only addresses convention listed species rather than other animals that are currently listed under the wildlife protection act. I understand the rationale for that, in terms of what this is aimed at, but I am not sure if it was necessary in the sense that it may have been helpful to actually have this sort of mechanism applied more widely to other wildlife.

I think it is important to emphasise, given that the bill itself is only four pages long, that the quite comprehensive explanatory memorandum lists various options that were considered and the costs and benefits of each and even lists the option of doing nothing, or taking no specific action. As it quite pithily says, there are no foreseeable benefits in maintaining a stance of no action. I think that is the important part of this legislation, that it does seek to take concrete and positive action to address what is a real problem. And the Democrats support that.

Briefly, we would also like to note, as is also mentioned in the explanatory memorandum, the government's commitment to undertake a broad review of the wildlife protection act. That is certainly something the Democrats will be paying close attention to. It refers to recommendations in a recent Senate committee report. The Democrats do have a strong concern about the potential for an expansion of trade in wildlife without very clear and strong protections to ensure that environmental benefits are protected for the long term. We will certainly be watching closely to ensure that economic measures do not gain too much precedence and that environmental matters and the very survival of species, as well as the broader environment, are not sacrificed for trade measures. With that, given the time, I will simply indicate again the Democrats support for this legislation.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.

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