0711 GMT February 20, 2019
Warren Entsch repeated calls for an independent investigation into how the Association for the Conservation of Threatened Parrots (ACTP) was able to receive hundreds of rare and endangered birds from Australia, after its founder, Martin Guth, used a social media post to say more endangered species had arrived at its facilities in January, theguardian.com wrote.
Labor’s environment spokesman, Tony Burke, called on the environment minister, Melissa Price, to explain the ‘bizarre’ case and the Greens urged an immediate suspension of any further shipments.
A six-month Guardian investigation revealed in December that the environment department had approved the transfer of more than 200 birds to ACTP over three years on the grounds they would be used for a zoo exhibition.
But the organization has no facilities that are freely open to the public, and private messages on social media show native Australian birds apparently from ACTP have been offered for sale for hundreds of thousands of dollars. The German federal agency for nature conservation has said it was aware of those offers.
In a post on his personal Facebook page in late January, Guth said two more ‘very rare and amazing species’ had arrived from Australia.
The species are the Baudin’s black cockatoo, which is nationally listed as a vulnerable species and requires a special agreement between the government, exporter and importer, and a subspecies of the sulphur-crested cockatoo, which Guth’s post claimed had never been outside of Australia.
“I know I should not post it, just to not make all the haters happy!” the post said.
“But I love birds like we all do!”
It continued, “I was waiting long time to get those species in!”
Australia’s environment department issued a permit in November for the export of 64 more birds to ACTP. The permit included Baudin’s black cockatoos and sulphur-crested cockatoos, Naretha bluebonnets and endangered Carnaby’s black cockatoos.
Guardian Australia asked the department if it had considered cancelling the permit and was told it was still valid.
A spokeswoman said the department had received formal notification in December that 34 of the birds had shipped to Germany, including two endangered Carnaby’s black cockatoos, six yellow-tailed black cockatoos and five Macleay’s fig parrots.
She said the department was reviewing information about ACTP “to assess if an investigation is warranted under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999”.
In late December Guth told the German regional TV broadcaster RBB that ACTP had no restrictions on its dealings in Australian birds.
“It means we are allowed to offer them … and we are allowed to sell Australian birds,” a translation of the interview said.
The export permits issued by the Australian department, along with correspondence between the department, ACTP and Germany’s federal agency for nature conservation, state the birds and their offspring were not to be sold. But the Germany agency has since said there were no limits on trade as far as it was concerned.
Entsch said “it beggars belief, in light of what has been revealed, that the department would continue to facilitate these shipments”.
“It brings into question the integrity of the approval process,” he said.
“The minister needs to step up and take control of their department and ask serious questions.
“I will not let it go. There needs to be a full independent audit of every bird that has ever been exported.”
Burke said, “If the government has been allowing our threatened species to become part of an international profit-making game then it has to stop, and stop now.”
He added, “The more I learn about this story, the more bizarre it seems. If this has been a legal process then the law needs to change. If the law hasn’t been applied properly, then the minister needs to explain.”
The Greens’ environment spokeswoman, Sarah Hanson-Young, said the permits should not have been issued.
“The environment department has some serious questions to answer,” she said.
“I will be using estimates hearings in two weeks to probe how on earth this happened and what the department and the minister are going to do to fix it.
“The federal government should never have given permits to allow the trade of rare and endangered birds with a person convicted of ---fraud and kidnapping. It must be investigated.”