House debates

Thursday, 3 June 2021

Questions without Notice

Environment, Employment

2:51 pm

Photo of Ted O'BrienTed O'Brien (Fairfax, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question goes to the Minister for the Environment. Will the minister please update the House on how the Morrison government is protecting our iconic marine environment and also the Australian jobs that go with it?

Dr Freelander interjecting

Photo of Tony SmithTony Smith (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The member for Macarthur will leave under 94(a).

The member for Macarthur then left the chamber.

It ought to be obvious, but I just remind members that general warnings don't have an expiry date during the day. The minister for the environment.

2:52 pm

Photo of Sussan LeySussan Ley (Farrer, Liberal Party, Minister for the Environment) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Fairfax for his question and for his passion for addressing the threats on our environment from feral animals. Our oceans are part of our national identity. They are critical to the daily lives of millions of Australians. Around 85 per cent of our population lives within 50 kilometres of the coast, so every Australian understands the vital role that our oceans play. They help underpin our economy, supporting more than 400,000 Australian jobs.

Through the last budget, Australia's position as a global leader on ocean and marine management will be further strengthened with an additional $100 million for a new Oceans Leadership Package, supporting not just our environment but so many diverse jobs all along our coastline in industries such as tourism, recreational fishing, trades and training, national park management and so on. The Oceans Leadership Package includes an expansion of our marine park network into the Indian Ocean Territories. It will cover up to 740,000 square kilometres, increasing the level of protected Australian waters to 45 per cent, up from 37 per cent. This is possibly the largest network of marine parks in the world. Our package includes funding for two additional rounds of the successful Our Marine Parks grants program, creating more opportunities for industry, communities and Indigenous communities. Funding from a previous round supported the tuna industry to help achieve the blue fish tick for sustainable fishing, adding to the value of their catch.

We will find ways to invest in new technology to prevent marine bycatch. The sight of turtles and dugongs caught up in discarded fishing nets truly enhances our determination to do that. We want to eradicate invasive species, such as foxes and cats, from our islands. Some of the work we're already doing includes our Nest to Ocean Turtle Protection Program in the member's home state. It protects turtle nests from feral pigs, and so far it has protected 1.3 million hatchlings, which have now made their way into the ocean and overseas.

This work builds on our previous work in oceans, in our last budget, establishing oyster reefs—so important for coastal communities wherever we find them. We're delivering cleaner beaches. We're increasing fish stocks. We're protecting turtles and seabirds. We're supporting our coastal and Indigenous communities and we're supporting those that rely on the oceans for their livelihood. This package continues that work.