The orange-bellied parrot that played a key role in a controversial decision to reverse approval for a wind farm in Victoria has been placed on the critically endangered list.
“I will be announcing today, in fact I think I’m announcing now, that I have formally signed the law upgrading the orange bellied parrot to critically endangered,” Environment Minister Ian Campbell told a gathering of school children at Parliament House today.
Only about 150 of the birds are left in the wild.
Senator Campbell recently announced habitat protection funding of $3.2 million for the parrot in South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria.
In April this year, Senator Campbell overturned state government approval for a 52-turbine wind farm at Bald Hills in Gippsland, using his discretionary powers under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act.
Despite a departmental report indicating there would be negligible impact on the species, an independent report found more serious concerns about parrot deaths.
The minister acted, blocking the $220 million project.
But, after a Federal Court appeal against the decision by the developer, Senator Campbell agreed to reconsider the decision and accept a revised submission from the wind farm’s proponents.
No definite decision on the revised proposal has been made.
Labor claimed the parrot was just an excuse for delivering on a promise to help shore up the marginal federal seat which surrounds Bald Hills.
Labor declared the critically endangered listing politically motivated.
“Senator Campbell’s concern for endangered species needs to go beyond whether they are present in marginal electorates,” opposition environment spokesman Anthony Albanese said.
Mr Albanese said Senator Campbell should be focusing on more pressing matters.
“It is unfortunate that Australia has an environment minister who ignores the huge threat to Australia’s biodiversity posed by climate change.”
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