Christmas Island

To: birding-aus <>
Subject: Christmas Island
From: Tom Tarrant <>
Date: Fri, 21 Jun 2002 20:45:28 +1000
G'day All,
Received this today and was surprised to hear that the government are
going to save us from refugees and wipe out the flora and fauna from one
of our Islands, no wonder top birders are flooding there to pick up new
species for Australasia!  Did Australians really vote this mob in?
I'm angry, (didn't help when those bloomin' rainforest clearers and
samba boys trounced our lardboys earlier today!!)......
Oh well.....

Hello everyone
 I was rather alarmed (as I'm sure most of you were) when I read the
"Abbott's Booby under pressure" posting on 13 May 2002. As a quick
 reminder, the background info and article described Australia's plans
to build an Immigration Reception and Processing Centre (aka -
 detention centre) next to one of the largest Abbott's booby colonies on
the island. The kicker is that the Minister for the Environment
 and Heritage (Hon. David Kemp), apparently under much pressure from the
Minister for Regional Service, Territories and Local Government
 (Hon. Wilson Tuckey), has exempted the construction and operation of
the detention centre from all environmental impact assessment
 requirements, because it is in the "national interest" and important
for border security. This entire situation is ridiculous for a
 number of reasons. I've outlined some of them in a letter (see below)
that I just sent to Hon. Tuckey (and cc'ed to Hon. David
 Unfortunately, development plans for the detention centre are already
underway. For example, a media release issued by Hon. Tuckey on 22
April 2002 announced that "tenders have been let for the construction
ofhousing and associated infrastructures" and that "[this] presents[s]
significant progress towards meeting the Government's timetable of
having thefacility operational by the end of this year."
 So, my guess is that the only way to get Hon. Tuckey to "re-consider"
his plans is to let him (and the international media?!) know that what
and his office are doing is wrong. If you agree with me, please feel
free to send my letter (or an altered version of it) to anyone and
that you think will listen. Here are a few suggestions:
 Hon. Wilson Tuckey
 Hon. David Kemp
 Heather Gibbs, Australasian Seabird Group
 (Special Interest Group of Birds Australia)
 If you've got any more suggestions (e.g. a journalist friend with a
 hankering for seabird conservation "stories"), please let me know!
 Thanks a ton - Tammy
 ~.~.~. ~.~.~. ~.~.~. ~.~.~.~
 Here's the letter:
 ~.~.~. ~.~.~. ~.~.~. ~.~.~.~
 Dear Hon. Tuckey,
 Re: Immigration Reception and Processing Centre on Christmas Island,
Indian Ocean
 It is my understanding that your office is responsible for the
development of a purpose-built Immigration Reception and Processing
Centre (IRPC)
n Christmas Island, Indian Ocean. Although I can appreciate why your
office would like to build such a facility on Christmas Island (in light
the Government of Australia policy that requires mandatory detention of
asylum seekers who enter or seek to enter Australia without
authorization), I
 cannot understand why your office has decided to do so with such
blatant disregard for the local flora and fauna.
 As you should know, Christmas Island is home to a large number of
endemic bird species. One of these species, the Abbott's booby, is
 critically endangered (IUCN Red List of Threatened Species). One of
the largest threats to Abbott's boobies is a lack of breeding
 habitat. As you also should know, Abbott's boobies nest in  rainforest
canopy. Much of their breeding habitat was destroyed
 during three decades of large-scale phosphate mining activities on  the
Island. What remains are a small number of isolated rainforest
 stands that provide less than ideal breeding habitat because their
canopies can penetrated by the wind (e.g. increased turbulence in
 these stands causes high adult mortality and low fledging success).
 In light of this, a National Park was recently created particularly for
Abbott's boobies and forest rehabilitation efforts on the Island
 are underway. In addition, a lease agreement has been established with
the mining company (Christmas Island Phosphates Pty. Ltd.) that
 prevents clearance of primary rainforest and the requirement for
permits to clear re-growth.
 Needless to say, I find it terribly ironic that the IRPC
developmentplans include the destruction of primary rainforest near one
of the largest
 Abbott's booby colonies on the Island and that these plans did not even
require an environmental impact assessment! I understand that your
office applied for (and received) exemptions under sections 158 and 303A
of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.
Although I
have to agree that your office has not done anything illegal, I do
believe it is unethical. In short, your office has obviously decided to
address an
issue of "national interest" (i.e. homeland security) at the expense of
what is clearly an issue of international interest (i.e. preservation of

global biodiversity). I am not trying to suggest that you stop your
plans to develop an IRPC on Christmas Island. Rather, I am strongly
you to delay them. Surely there is a more appropriate location to build
on the Island? Surely an environmental impact assessment would result in
 development of an IRPC that would benefit all interested
(local,national, and international) parties and, of course, the birds?
 In addition, although I am particularly worried about the future of
Abbott's boobies on Christmas Island, I am even more concerned about
the dangerous precedent that your actions will set for future
developments of "national interest" that may similarly threaten
critically endangered
 species. I urge you to take this opportunity to do the right thing
-for  Christmas Island, Australia, and the World.
 Tammy Steeves
 Ph.D. candidate
 Kingston, ON
 John Cooper
 Chief Research Officer
 Avian Demography Unit
 Department of Statistical Sciences
 University of Cape Town
 Rondebosch 7701
 South Africa
 Phone: +27-21-650-3426
 Fax: +27-21-650-3434

 Dr Rosalind Jessop
 Senior Biologist
 Phillip Island Nature Park
 PO Box 97
 Cowes. 3922.
 Telephone: 61-3-5951 2800
 Facsimile:    61-3-5956 8394

Tom and Marie Tarrant
Lot 10 (137) Watson Rd
Samsonvale, Queensland 4521

Tel: 07 3425 1780
Mob: 0409 264 725

Birding Southern Queensland


Birding-Aus is on the Web at
To unsubscribe from this mailing list, send the message
"unsubscribe birding-aus" (no quotes, no Subject line)

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the birding-aus mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the archive e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU