Senate debates

Thursday, 16 August 2018

Regulations and Determinations

Marine Parks Network Management Plans; Disallowance

10:38 am

Photo of Rachel SiewertRachel Siewert (WA, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

It is not a pleasure to follow Senator Macdonald in speaking, in terms of the load of baloney that the minister—that the senator just delivered to this chamber.

An honourable senator: He never made minister!

He did for a short time, in actual fact. Comments that Senator Macdonald made were derogatory to the Greens and to those that have worked for so long and hard to put in place marine protection. His No. 1 argument is, 'Well, you'd rather have nothing and you're trying to get rid of these marine plans.' That's what that side of the chamber did, when they got rid of the management plans for the marine parks in the marine protected areas, in the first place. So how can he come into this chamber and say, 'Ooh, Labor and the Greens seek to get rid of these management plans,' when that's exactly what his side did?

They got rid of the world's leading series of marine protected areas. They're well acknowledged around the world as being world leading. I cannot believe that he would have the audacity to have a go at us for trying to take it back to what it was, because that government have reduced marine protection in very important areas, bowing to the pressure from the fishing industry. That's exactly what that government did. They took away the protection that had just been put in place.

I, for one, will freely acknowledge that previous coalition governments have done work on marine protection, but to say they're the only ones is a pack of nonsense, when quite clearly we're standing here trying to protect and get back what the previous Labor government put in place. And, yes, we were critical of the things that weren't included in those areas. We wanted them to do better. I'm on the record as having said that. But this government came in place and got rid of those areas. They can play around with wording, but there is absolutely no doubt in the community's mind that that's what they did. They took away that series of marine protected areas and they took away the bioregional marine parks that were put in place as part of that process.

I've been working on marine protection since the mid-eighties. I've been through the highs and the lows. I've been through building community awareness. I've been through the process of arguing that marine protected areas and no-take zones don't protect fishing stocks. We had that really ridiculous argument when people tried to argue that they don't play a role in protecting fish stocks. We've been through that. Some people still like to deny the evidence. We've been through that. We now have acceptance of the importance of marine protection, both for the protection of marine biodiversity and for fish stocks. We've been through that. Now we have a government bowing to pressure from recreational fishers and commercial fishers and it will compromise the protection of really important areas.

I'd like to focus on Western Australia. Andrew Bartlett will talk about the travesty of the cuts to the Coral Sea, but I want to talk about my home state of Western Australia. Overwhelmingly, people in Western Australia love the marine environment. Most Western Australians live by the coast. I think it would be freely acknowledged in this place that we have a lot of very special coast. I go back to the marine campaign. Tim Winton was involved in the campaign to protect the Ningaloo Coast, to make sure that we did not have inappropriate development in Coral Bay that would have damaged the Ningaloo Coast. The Ningaloo rally was one of the biggest rallies we've ever had in Western Australia. I remember marching in Fremantle all those years ago to protect that coast, as did Tim and thousands and thousands of Western Australians. Have no doubt that Western Australians love their marine environment. They love Ningaloo and they love the south-west.

Just for a little bit of one-up-personship: the south-west marine area has the highest number of marine endemic species—far higher than other areas around the Australian coast—so it's very important that we have adequate marine protection there. We are still, in fact, developing our understanding of some of those areas. In Western Australia, under the plans that this government wants to put in place, we've seen cuts to Geographe Bay. It's halved from the 2012 area. We've seen the green zones moved offshore in those really important areas around Bremer, and allowing scallop trawling. We have seen the more intense protection for the Rowley Shoals reduced by 45 per cent. We've seen around Gascoyne and Ningaloo a 75 per cent reduction. They have mucked around the Perth Canyon and moved the protection to the wrong spot. These are important areas for marine biodiversity from around the world, growing more so every day as we understand the impact of climate change on our marine environment. These parks do not now deliver the best system in the world. We did have that, but, because of pressure from industry, and from Senator Macdonald's— (Time expired)


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