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

You call him 'Gymnast Joe'; some, like me, would call him 'Jellyback Joe'. This is the second time a hapless minister for agriculture has—against what I know is his better judgement—had to change his first decision, which, in the two instances I talk about, was a reasonable decision. He has had to change his decision within a matter of days to accommodate the Left wing of the Labor Party and the Greens political party that keeps Ms Gillard in power as Prime Minister.

As I say, I withdraw some of my criticism of Mr Burke, for the reasons I mentioned, and some of my criticism of Senator Ludwig for the same reasons. I know Senator Ludwig totally disagreed with the live cattle export ban. I also know that he totally disagreed with this decision on the MV Abel Tasman. But in both instances he was done over, so to speak, because of internal ructions within the Labor Party and the fact that Mr Kevin Rudd would use this whole populist issue as a grounds for a challenge to Ms Gillard for the prime ministership of Australia.

Madam Acting Deputy President, I draw your attention to an answer to a question asked—very poorly, I might say, given that he got all his facts wrong—by Senator Whish-Wilson in this chamber last Monday. When Senator Whish-Wilson first raised this issue, this time, in the chamber by asking Senator Ludwig about this incident, what did Senator Ludwig do? He went to extreme lengths to justify his decision, and the decision of Mr Burke when he was the fisheries minister, to welcome this big trawler into Australian waters. Senator Ludwig, in answering Senator Whish-Wilson, said:

Rather than go through the long history, I will just say that the rules were changed after that by Senator Macdonald—

when I was then fisheries minister—

with the direction to AFMA—and it was a very sound direction.

Senator Ludwig, you criticised Senator Whish-Wilson for being inaccurate and not having done his homework, but you actually fell into that trap a bit as well, because the facts show that there was no direction by me but in fact advice to me by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority—but, never mind. Senator Ludwig went on to say:

It moved the situation to a circumstance where we would concentrate on output controls versus what would commonly be described as input controls. Output controls meant that we would look at issues around the total allowable catch rather than at the type of gear or effort that went into fishing.

Senator Ludwig again went on to defend this big trawler coming into Australia by saying:

I note the recent report from eminent fishery scientists that states that factors in play in the fishery, taken together, 'give confidence that food-web impacts of the small pelagic fishery on predators and the small pelagic fishery species themselves, including through localised depletion, are unlikely'.

So there was Senator Ludwig on Monday defending Mr Burke's position of welcoming this trawler in and on Tuesday—not 24 hours later—he was banning this trawler that he had been protecting and applauding the day before.

Senator Whish-Wilson's second supplementary question was in fact accurate. Senator Which-Wilson asked:

Can the minister comment on remarks made to the media by members of the Labor caucus, including ex-Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, over the weekend, concerning a private member's bill to ban supertrawlers from operating in Australian waters?

Senator Whish-Wilson, you got that bit right. Your intelligence on the ALP caucus was pretty good! You did know that this was the first step towards a challenge to Ms Gillard for the leadership of the Labor Party. That is the bit of your three questions that day that you got absolutely 100 per cent correct. I refer the Senate to Senator Ludwig's answer to the second supplementary, in which he said:

But can I say one of the important parts that is missed in this debate is that the Australian Fisheries Management Authority is an independent authority responsible for the sustainable management of Commonwealth fisheries.


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