Environment Minister buries national tragedy in media release fine print

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Federal Policy Director for the Wilderness Society, Tim Beshara, has criticised Environment Minister, Melissa Price for burying the official acknowledgement of the extinction of an Australian mammal species in a media release today entitled “Stronger protection for threatened species”.

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PRESS RELEASE

Federal Policy Director for the Wilderness Society, Tim Beshara, has criticised Environment Minister, Melissa Price for burying the official acknowledgement of the extinction of an Australian mammal species in a media release today entitled “Stronger protection for threatened species”.

Tim Beshara said, “If we do not acknowledge the full extent of the environmental crisis we are facing, then there is no way that our actions will be sufficient to deal with it.

“Ignoring a fish kill as Environment Minister is one thing, but burying the announcement of a species extinction is a whole new level.

“Rather than properly acknowledging the extinction of the Bramble Cay melomys, the Environment  Minister has buried it at the bottom of a media release with the euphemism “transfer from the Endangered Category to the Extinct Category”. What a way to mark the official extinction of an entire species.

“The Bramble Cay melomys was a little brown rat. But it was our little brown rat and it was our responsibility to make sure it persisted. And we failed.

“It was the only endemic mammal of the Great Barrier Reef and scientists have directly attributed it’s passing to climate change. Sea level rise and increased storm surges first removed the species’ food supplies and then ultimately washed the last vestiges of the population into the ocean.

“Melissa Price had no hand in the passing of the melomys but it is her responsibility to make sure we learn from it, so that other species don’t suffer the same fate.

“Today she could have acknowledged its official extinction, announced a review of the species loss and promised to implement changes in endangered species management from whatever the review found. But instead, she glossed over its extinction with euphemism.

“The Bramble Cay melomys was saveable, but we didn’t save it. We could have watched it more closely. We could have put in place a captive breeding program before it was too late.

“This is why the environment movement is calling for a rewrite of our nature laws because to call the current approach ‘pathetically inadequate’ would be an overstatement of its effectiveness,” he concluded.

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