Canberra Liberals environment spokeswoman Nicole Lawder has come under fire for suggesting that a protected bird species is an “imported pest” that should be “managed or eradicated.”
Environment Minister Simon Corbell has asked Ms Lawder “to declare which native species she wants to wipe out next” after she wrote to the Minister complaining about the native bird the common koel.
The Canberra Liberals MLA wrote “I have been contacted by constituents in Tuggeranong, specifically Bonython, Kambah and Chisholm in relation to an imported pest, the Common Koel.”
“Are you able to provide me with information on the ACT Government’s plan to manage or eradicate these pests?”
The common koel is a migratory species that is known for its loud bird call.
The species is a summer migrant to Canberra but was rarely seen in the territory before the 1980s.
Mr Corbell said the bird was protected under the ACT nature conservation act.
After a week in which one of the government’s own ministers, Joy Burch, was attacked by the opposition for her management of the multicultural affairs portfolio, Mr Corbell accused the Canberra Liberals environment spokeswoman of not being across hers.
“I am shocked that the person who wants to be the environment minister would want to eradicate a native species,” Mr Corbell said.
“Is this the type of practical, direct action on the environment that Ms Lawder will be advocating for on behalf of the Liberal opposition?
“Even if her knowledge of native Australian species is limited, I would have expected, as Liberal environment spokesperson, that Ms Lawder would at least check to see if the bird species in question was native or imported before requesting its eradication.”
Mr Corbell said the government had no plans to manage or eradicate the bird.
“What other species of native bird would Ms Lawder like to eradicate next?” he said.
“Possibly the black cockatoo or the gang gang?”
But Ms Lawder said she was not suggesting eradication of a native species and was just doing her job by contacting the minister on behalf of residents in her electorate.
She said Mr Corbell had not even replied to her letter, which she sent nearly two months ago.
“This is also the government that spent $10,000 relocating a couple of peacocks,” she said.
“So bird stories are not new to them.
“Unfortunately Mr Corbell has taken the opportunity to score some cheap political points in a week where Ms Burch and Ms Gallagher have come under scrutiny.”