Senate debates

Thursday, 16 August 2018

Regulations and Determinations

Marine Parks Network Management Plans; Disallowance

9:58 am

Photo of Peter Whish-WilsonPeter Whish-Wilson (Tasmania, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

Hundreds of thousands of Tasmanians and Australians have emailed senators this week urging them to support this disallowance. I would just ask you all to reflect on those people who have spent two decades campaigning for marine protections, including the many scientists who aren't members of the Greens, Senator Macdonald—the 1,400 scientists who have signed the petition calling on senators to support the disallowance and reject this plan. Why would these people be asking you to support the disallowance? You've heard the words of Tim Winton. That is the same sentiment I've heard from so many other people around this country. We have to continue the campaign to get proper marine protections in place in this country. There's never been a more important time, given what's going on in our oceans, to not only put marine protections in place but improve marine protections.

If this disallowance gets up, there will be existing protections in place under international conservation measures. There will be protections in place under EPBC law and there will be protections in place under the directions of national parks. All the crossbench senators have had all this pointed out to them in recent weeks. Of course, this debate would've been much easier if the Labor and Greens plans had come into force earlier. What we're seeing here today would've been a much starker compromise. But do not be fooled by the argument that, if we don't get these marine protected areas up, we're going to have no marine protections on the water. That is not the case. If you support this today, you are supporting the government's campaign, and the vested interests behind it, to gut marine protections and set an extremely bad example, to reward bad behaviour. It will be noticed all around the world. The environment movement is asking you to stand with them and continue the campaign to get proper protections in place, to make a difference at a time when it's so critically needed.

There are many other things I would love to say today, but I won't have the time. Many other senators need to contribute to this debate. It's not something that we should be sweeping under the carpet. It's one of the most important things I can think of to debate in the Senate—that is, the future of our oceans for the communities that depend on them, be they rec fishers or commercial fishers, future generations, divers, surfers or any Australian who loves their ocean.

I can't understand how we can vote for a plan today that would deliberately set out, from the beginning—in an election promise—to rip up marine protections, to gut 20 years of hard work by so many people. I can't understand how we could do that today. I admit I will be deeply disappointed and shocked if the Senate doesn't support the Labor and Greens disallowance, if it gives satisfaction to those vested interests who have manipulated parliament. It doesn't surprise me that they manipulate the Liberal and National parties. That's why those opposite are here—to represent their mates. But, for those hundreds of thousands of Australians, those millions of Australians, who care about the ocean, please know that I put on the record today my respect for your decades of hard work and I will express my disappointment if this plan gets up. If this goes into force tomorrow then it will officially happen. This is our last chance. We have today and this afternoon to convince senators to not support this government's deliberate attempt to decimate marine protections at a time when they are most desperately needed.

But don't give up heart; don't give up hope. Whatever happens today, the movement will continue to campaign for proper marine protections, and the Greens will continue to campaign for proper marine protections. It doesn't end here today. In fact, I've got no doubt that a Labor government, hopefully, will be elected at the next federal election and will make a difference by putting in place proper marine protected areas.

Senator Ian Macdonald interjecting—

You can laugh all you like, Senator Macdonald. You won't be here, which is a good thing in my opinion. However, in my last 23 seconds—do not give this mob the satisfaction. You can choose between the oceans and Mr Tony Abbott. That's your choice here today. You can choose between protecting the oceans for future generations and giving this mob what they want.


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