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

Australia Opposes Lifting of Ivory Ban


4 June 1997
(56/97)

Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill has announced that the Howard Government will not support a bid to remove elephants from Appendix 1 of the CITES Convention.

The move by three African nations - Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Botswana - is set to be debated at the CITES Convention meeting beginning on June 9 in Harare.

Senator Hill says the Australian position has been taken after careful consideration of the issue.

"This is not a clear cut issue with a range of differing opinions being put forward by conservationists.

"Clearly Namibia, Zimbabwe and Botswana have adopted better practices and deserve encouragement and support.

"However in view of the fact that so much has been achieved in a relatively short time since the trade in ivory ban, it would be a terrible mistake to reverse the policy and find mass destruction of elephants again occurring.

"I believe that lifting the ban would encourage poaching and would therefore be a threat to the elephant population in these three nations and elsewhere.

'I have also decided that Australia will not support a South African proposal to downlist the Southern White Rhino."

The announcements come on the eve of World Environment Day.

Senator Hill has launched this year's official World Environment Day poster and community service announcement.

"The WED poster has become a strong symbol for schools and conservation groups across Australia.

"This year's poster builds on the international theme of "For Life on Earth' and features a range of scenes from King parrots and pilot whales through to noxious river weeds and land degradation.

"It is a strong reminder of the unique beauty of the Australian environment and the efforts we need to make to ensure it is restored and protected.

"The Community Service announcement has a strong marine theme featuring whales and dolphins. The commercial reminds us that water sustains all life on earth.

"The theme builds strongly on the Howard Government's commitment to marine issues, particularly through the development of Australia's first Oceans Policy and our efforts to secure an international ban on commercial whaling.'

Copies of the World Environment Day poster and a series of Fact Sheets can be obtained from Environment Australia on 1800 803 772.

Media contact: Matt Brown 06 277 7640 or 0419 693 515.

Commonwealth of Australia