Senate debates

Thursday, 16 August 2018

Regulations and Determinations

Marine Parks Network Management Plans; Disallowance

3:57 pm

Photo of Louise PrattLouise Pratt (WA, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Environment and Water (Senate)) Share this | Hansard source

In closing the debate today, I am very proud to have moved these disallowance motions with Senator Whish-Wilson. Our nation is the guardian of the world's third-largest marine territory. We have the most diverse marine life on earth within our waters. And we, as elected representatives, should be exercising our responsibility to protect our vulnerable oceans and marine life. In decimating the original plans, which had been worked on for so long, that is something the government has failed to do as they have put their vastly weakened plans forward.

The Australian government's plans have introduced marine park plans that cut back marine sanctuaries, and we should be standing for strong sanctuary protection of our ocean's marine life now and in the future. You have ignored decades of science. You have also ignored the advice of the government's own independent review. You have also ignored the wishes of local communities and, indeed, the voices of the hundreds of thousands of Australians who were consulted during the Labor government's process for marine park planning.

When you released your draft plans last year, there was a massive call from scientists, nearly 1,500 of them, rejecting the plans that you'd put forward. Indeed, at that time, when you put your own plans forward, more than 80,000 Australians made a submission asking for more, not less, protection. And you know what? Those submissions calling for more protection included over 16,000 recreational fishers. Your flashing of protection for many of Australia's top marine icons includes one of Australia's oldest sanctuaries, as I highlighted before in the debate, including that of Lord Howe Island. For me, devastatingly, it includes Geographe Bay, in the south-west of WA, the Gulf of Carpentaria and the Kimberley. But, as we know—and it's been well put on record in this debate—worst hit is the Coral Sea, which is the cradle to the Great Barrier Reef. I understand the Greens will move to separate out the disallowance motion for the Coral Sea so we can put those questions separately, highlighting the significance of the attacks on the Coral Sea.

Let's be clear: It's not like we don't understand that we're between the devil and the deep blue sea on this question—bad plans or no plans. But let's be very clear: the plans that you've put forward do not do the job of protecting Australia's marine life or, indeed, benefitting local communities. Those plans must be improved and they should have been improved by the government, but, instead, we commit ourselves in the Labor Party to fixing this problem in government. What we need from government on both sides—and you've been completely negligent on this—is delivery of a science based network that reflects what our oceans, our communities and the Australian public want. I commit myself, along with the rest of the Labor Party, to restore high-level sanctuary zone protection within Australia's marine parks. We cannot afford to let these sanctuary cutbacks compromise our marine ecosystems and our marine life.


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