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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 12 Hansard (Tuesday, 23 November 2021) . . Page.. 3509 ..

30 June next year. As I said, let us get on with it. These measures must be in place before next year’s visit of the flying foxes. Victoria has done it. There is legislation there to show us the way; so why the delay?

It was 2½ years ago, in May 2019, that the grey-headed flying fox was listed as a vulnerable species. They are a keystone species and it is important to recognise their ecological significance. Grey-headed flying foxes are the largest of Australia’s megabats, social animals which form colonies and congregate in camps. One website I came across delightfully referred to our flying foxes as:

… hardworking little Aussies. They are the FIFO—

fly in, fly out—

workers on the night shift—flying out from their camps at dusk to feed on flowering or fruiting plants and trees.

ACT Wildlife tells us on their website that flying foxes:

… pollinate flowers and disperse seeds as they forage on nectar and pollen of eucalypts, melaleucas & banksias and the fruits of forest trees and vines.

And what super little pollinators they are, up to 60,000 seeds each along a 50-kilometre stretch of land every single night. When their work is done they head back to camp before dawn to sleep through the day, ready for their next shift. Their contribution to the health of our native forests cannot be overstated.

While I am speaking about ACT Wildlife, may I take this opportunity to praise our hardworking ACT Wildlife volunteers, who do so much to care for Canberra’s injured, sick and orphaned wildlife. The Canberra Liberals salute their commitment and advocacy on this issue, reflected in their evidence to the May 2018 inquiry into nature in our city led by the Standing Committee on Environment and Transport and City Services. I know this issue is important to ACT Wildlife and its membership and want to assure them of the Canberra Liberals’ support.

The proposed management actions that this motion refers to came from the government at that time, in May 2019, when the flying fox was listed as vulnerable. This begs the question: why has nothing been done since then? What is the point of having a Labor-Greens government—and in this Assembly, we now have six Greens MLAs—when so many issues concerning our environment fall by the wayside? The Greens do not show the backbone that is needed to get results.

Why has this government not done anything already to implement these proposed management actions to protect the vulnerable grey-headed flying fox, when straightforward measures were proposed back in May 2019? The question has to be asked: how many of these flying foxes are we happy to lose before action is taken? How does it work in government: we list an animal as a vulnerable species and then forget about it?

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