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Media Release
Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment and Heritage

24 May 2001

New Wildlife Trade Laws Boost Protection for Species

Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill today introduced into the Senate new wildlife trade laws which will enhance protection for Australia's native species and species in other countries threatened by trade.

Senator Hill said the new laws fully implement Australia's obligations under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

"The Bill will ensure Australia continues to have the toughest wildlife trade laws in the world," Senator Hill said.

"On a global scale, the illegal trade in wildlife is second only to the illicit drugs trade. The new laws will strengthen Australia's contribution to international efforts to protect species from this trade - species such as the African elephant, the Black Rhino and lesser know species such as the Chiru (a tibetan antelope)."

"The laws also enhance protection for Australian species targeted by wildlife smugglers. Palm Cockatoos, which may be sold for US$12,000 (per pair), and the rough knob-tailed gecko, which can fetch up to US$2000, are just some of the species that will enjoy stronger protection under the Bill introduced today."

Senator Hill said the existing wildlife trade laws were enacted nearly twenty years ago and they were now outdated and did not represent best practice.

"The existing laws will be upgraded, simplified and incorporated in the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999."

Senator Hill said the new laws will deliver a range of benefits:

"The Bill also maintains the ban on the commercial export of live native mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians."

"The introduction of the proposed new wildlife trade laws is another step in the process of reforming Commonwealth environment law, ensuring that it provides the highest protection for Australia's unique environment while also delivering a user-friendly assessment process."

Thursday, May 24, 2001

Contact: Belinda Huppatz 02 6277 7640 or 0419 258 364

Commonwealth of Australia