Tuesday, 18 September 2012
Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Declared Commercial Fishing Activities) Bill 2012; Second Reading
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Thanks, Senator.
Mr Burke, the minister, has form on this. He dumped the conditional approval on the South of Embley bauxite mine. He dumped a very important project on the back of a one-page flimsy, inaccurate formal complaint by the Wilderness Society, thus setting a dangerous precedent for future resource projects in Australia. Without any regard for the economic consequences, he succumbed to the Wilderness Society's relentless pressure to stop the project on Cape York from proceeding. Six months later this multi-million dollar project continues to be stalled after the company was forced to complete an expanded environmental impact assessment including shipping movements. The Wilderness Society initially raised grave concerns for the local bare-rumped sheathtail bat and then moved on to a new species of freshwater crab. They could not do any good with that but they wrote to the minister and said there was going to be a greater number of boat movements through the Great Barrier Reef. In fact, there was not any great movement of boats through the Barrier Reef. The additional movements were boats loaded with bauxite going up to China and not going near the reef. But still the minister held sway and so that is another project that has closed down.
I am a bit like Senator Scullion. Sometimes I feel almost sorry for Senator Joe Ludwig. I think his heart is in the right place. He tries to defend the government's policies but he is always undermined by the environment department. All the time he plays second fiddle to the environment department. The question we have got to ask is: what damage does this do to Australia's trading partners? After this decision and the decision on the live-cattle industry, I believe people are going to think very seriously about ever going into partnership with Australia again. One thing Australia has always been is a country that can honour its commitments, a country that can say, 'We'll honour a handshake. We don't need a contract. If we have promised to do that, we'll do it.' But, unfortunately, all the greens have to do is turn up with a well-funded campaign including the Australian Marine Conservation Society and the World Wildlife Fund, who have formed an alliance, and come out with misleading advertising which Tony Burke bends his knee to. The genuine science backdrop of providing new fisheries that would allow a product that would feed hungry protein-deprived Africa has just disappeared.
A number of other green groups joined the coalition of the greens and ran full-page ads saying that seals and dolphins would be caught in the trawler nets. The Abel Tasman folk have spent seven years trying to develop by-catch excluders and they have used underwater cameras and have taken every precaution possible to protect wildlife. If this were the case, why couldn't this be worked out within seven years? These negotiations have been underway for seven years but we had to wait until the boat was out here and the jobs had been allocated—and you could imagine the disappointment of people, having received a job, to be then told they were not wanted. In the end the minister did not listen to the AFMA and did not listen to the scientists but did listen to Greenpeace and the green groups that are dedicated to destroying jobs and to destroying industry. This is not the first time this has happened; this has happened before. We in Australia are getting such a reputation that people would not invest Confederate money in this country under this government.
On 13 September Tony Burke sends out a signal: 'I'm not happy with the opposition to the supertrawler by the green groups.' He had strengthened with his statement on 22 August and suggested there were issues with dolphins, sea lions and seabirds and he wanted to make sure that the fishing method used did not create problems for these species. Why did it have to happen in the last week? Why couldn't it have happened within seven years? But, no, just bend the knee every time the greens demand something and acquiesce to their needs! On 11 September the Commonwealth fisheries industry, in supporting the Australian Fisheries Management Authority and in trying to offset some of the misleading advertisements taken out by the environmental groups, tried to fight back and took out a half-page ad—