Senate debates

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2008

Referral to Committee

4:31 pm

Photo of Steve FieldingSteve Fielding (Victoria, Family First Party) Share this | Hansard source

I move:

That the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2008 be referred to the Environment, Communications and the Arts Committee for inquiry and report by 10 November 2008.

The reason Family First has put forward this motion to refer the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2008 to the Senate Standing Committee on Environment, Communications and the Arts for an inquiry and report is that there is concern about the changes in the definitions and direction of the management of the park and about the definition of the precautionary principle, which basically could end up stopping any recreational fishing in the marine park. Everybody is rightly concerned to make sure that the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is looked after, but we need to make sure that we do not stop recreational fishers from legitimately fishing within those boundaries. There have been serious concerns raised by various groups that warrant and justify the Senate looking into this legislation and those concerns before making a decision. I do not want to pre-empt the outcome of any Senate inquiry, but quite clearly there are concerns from various groups. Given those concerns, I think it makes sense for the Senate to look into this bill because it proposes some significant changes to what is currently in place.

There is no need to rush this bill through. The reporting date of 10 November for the inquiry would allow the government to get the legislation through this year, so we are not wanting to frustrate the government. The reporting date gives plenty of time and scope for various interest groups to have their say and for the Senate to listen to both sides of the arguments and make sure there are no unintended consequences. The Senate is the house of review to look at legislation, so I think an inquiry makes sense. I appeal to all senators, not just to the government of the day, to support this motion. It is for an inquiry into a bill that various community groups have concerns with. I think we need to have an inquiry to hear those concerns, to hear both sides, and then the Senate can look at the committee’s report.


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