Senate debates

Thursday, 16 August 2018

Regulations and Determinations

Marine Parks Network Management Plans; Disallowance

3:49 pm

Photo of Anne RustonAnne Ruston (SA, Liberal Party, Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources) Share this | Hansard source

Let's be absolutely clear what we are voting on here today. We are voting to allow a very comprehensive marine park network to remain in place or we are not. Those opposite would have you believe that this is a choice between the marine park management plans that are set in place and on the water at the moment and a set of plans proposed six years ago that never came into effect. That is not what we are voting on today. Today, we get to vote for our scientifically based, fully consulted, broadly supported plans that are currently in place and providing on-water protections, or no plans at all. If this disallowance is successful, 2.2 million square kilometres of Australia's marine environment will have no marine park protection tomorrow morning.

The choice is quite clear here for those in the chamber: provide certainty for everyone who enjoys our oceans or create more uncertainty; support the rights of five million recreational fishers, who are great stewards of our marine environment, or lock them out; support our sustainable fishers who catch the seafood that so many Australians want to eat for dinner tonight or run them out of business; support our tourism industry and the regional communities along our coastline that rely on our marine environment for their existence or shut them down; support Australia's international reputation as one of the best managed marine environments in the world or let it be discredited, purely for political pointscoring.

But don't be fooled by the misinformation being peddled by the zealots, who would have everyone locked out of our marine environment. It is largely false and certainly misleading at best. There have been claims that our waters will be invaded by supertrawlers. There are no supertrawlers. There can be no supertrawlers in our waters without the consent of this parliament. Remember: we banned them. Another claim is that foreign fishing boats are taking all our fish. There are no foreign fishing boats in our waters and absolutely no plan for any to be here. They claim that our fish stocks are declining, ignoring the fact that our fisheries management in Commonwealth waters is quota managed. These quotas are set within very conservative levels to ensure sustainability of all of our fish stocks, and our fish stock reports in fact show that our fish stocks are increasing.

So let's get the facts on the table. The plans that these disallowance motions are seeking to remove came into effect on 1 July 2018. And here are the facts. Our marine park network covers 36 per cent of Australia's oceans. That is the exclusive economic zone. It's the second largest in the world. It is over three times in excess of the Aceh target, the United Nations target of 10 per cent. It is based on independent science and followed extensive consultation with all legitimate stakeholders, and it strikes a balance by protecting both the marine environment and the social and economic interests of current and future generations of Australians. What you won't hear from those opposite is that it protects more environmental features than the plans that were proposed under Labor in 2012.

Yet, today, Labor and the Greens want to roll back these protections. Make no mistake: if these disallowance motions are successful today, it will represent the greatest roll-back of marine protections ever. Has there ever been a more bizarre situation? By moving these disallowance motions, it is the Labor Party and the Greens who want to remove protections from our marine environment. It is the Labor Party and the Greens who want to rip up the protections that are already in place. Today, the Labor Party and the Greens are asking this Senate to take away the rights of Australians to drop a line in the water and catch their dinner. They are asking you to decimate sustainable industries and destroy thousands of jobs in many regional communities. They are basically forcing Australians to eat foreign seafood instead of the safe, healthy, clean and sustainably fished local seafood. They want you to listen to foreign-funded NGOs and not the Australian people. They demonstrate their contempt and distrust of Australians by trying to keep them locked out of their own sovereign waters.

I thank the thousands of people who have been engaged in this process—the rec fishers; the people who catch the fish that goes into our fish and chip shops; the tourism operators; the guy in the bait store; and the many thousands of Australians who enjoy our oceans in so many ways. I particularly thank the Australian Recreational Fishing Foundation, with Brett Cleary and Glenn Hurry before him, and Allan Hansard, who worked tirelessly at the beginning; the Australian Fishing Tackle Industry, with Colin Tannahill; and the Game Fishing Association, with Doug Sanderson.

I thank all of our wonderful state recreational fishing bodies—Recfishwest, TARFish, VRFish, Sunfish Queensland, the Amateur Fishermen's Association of the Northern Territory and RecFish SA. I also want to thank our commercial fishers: the Seafood Industry Association, with Jane Lovell and Veronica Papacosta; the state seafood industry associations; the Northern Territory Seafood Council; the Queensland Seafood Industry Association; and the Western Australian Fishing Industry Council.

A very special thanks goes to Colin Buxton, Peter Cochrane and Bob Beeton, who undertook the independent review. You have had your reputations attacked by those who have no credibility themselves, but you remained solidly committed to the science. To Michelle Grady of the Pew foundation: Michelle, I know you sought to have more no-take zones, but your support to maintain these quite extensive protections is greatly appreciated. And to the crossbench: this week you have been bombarded by those who would have 'nothing be the enemy of the good'. I thank you all for your time that you have afforded me to brief you, and the opportunity to rebut the many outlandish claims that have been made.

And finally, to all Australians who enjoy our marine environment: your government believes that Australian waters belong to the Australian people, not the Labor Party and not the Greens or their foreign-funded cohorts, and we will continue to fight to stop those opposite discrediting our internationally recognised sustainable fisheries. And we will fight to stop them locking you out from your oceans, because our marine environment is a shared resource for the enjoyment of all Australians. I call on the Senate to reject these disallowance motions.


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