Senate debates

Monday, 17 September 2012


Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Declared Commercial Fishing Activities) Bill 2012; Second Reading

7:55 pm

Photo of Ian MacdonaldIan Macdonald (Queensland, Liberal Party, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Northern and Remote Australia) Share this | Hansard source

It is always a pleasure to be in the chamber when my very learned colleague Senator Brandis looks at the law involved in issues before this chamber. I think the chamber and parliament indeed is well served that we have someone of Senator Brandis's legal expertise here. I know he will make an excellent Attorney-General, a competent Attorney-General, should we be successful in the next election.

I love Senator Brandis's description that the more stupid you are the more power you are given. In the instance of this particular exercise, I can only say to Senator Brandis that Mr Burke and Senator Ludwig will be the most powerful people that Australia has ever known, because they are certainly the most stupid, and this bill says it all.

I guess I should start by retracting a little of my condemnation of Mr Burke and Senator Ludwig. They only brought this in because of Kevin Rudd. It is Kevin Rudd's fault yet again that we have this type of on-the-run legislation. It has nothing to do with fisheries management, nothing to do with the law and certainly nothing to do with science. It is all about some people on the very Left of the Labor Party who were concerned, as are the Greens, with proper fishing techniques in Australia. These people in the Labor Party had threatened to and had prepared to bring in a private member's bill, which Mr Rudd—bless his soul—had indicated he was going to support. There was a bit of support in the Labor Party for this. It looked like the bases of a challenge for the leadership of the Australian Labor Party.

What does Ms Gillard do to stem the challenge? She immediately adopts this populist bill, notwithstanding that the hapless environment minister, Mr Burke, a couple of months beforehand in his then position as the fisheries minister, had actually encouraged ships of the type of the supertrawler, like the MV Abel Tasman, to come to Australian waters. So you have the hapless Mr Burke on record encouraging this ship, or ships like it, to come into Australian waters. Then he was left to pick up the political problem that Ms Gillard had that her leadership was in doubt. So it was poor old hapless Mr Ludwig who then had to do a complete backflip and be the one to announce that he was not going to let the ship in.


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