Wednesday, 9 November 2011
The National Party is back. I, and also on behalf of Senator Waters, move:
That the Senate—
(a) notes the unique biodiversity and natural heritage of the Coral Sea that is home to the critically endangered hawksbill sea turtle and endangered green turtle;
(c) calls on the Government to declare the Coral Sea the world's largest marine national park.
The government is committed to protecting our unique environment whilst strengthening communities across the country. The Coral Sea is an important national asset and is internationally recognised for its rich biodiversity and important heritage values. It is also home to a breathtaking coral reef, sandy cays and islands. The Coral Sea Conservation Zone was declared to provide interim protection of this area while it is being assessed as part of the national marine bioregional planning process. This process is based on science, detailed planning and extensive community consultation.
Public consultation on the east marine region, including temperate waters and the Coral Sea, will commence soon. The government understand there are different views in the community on this issue. We are committed to a transparent process that includes meaningful consultation with all stakeholders. This engagement is important. For that reason, we will not support this motion.
I thank the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry for that information. The prospect of the Coral Sea becoming the world's largest marine national park is a very exciting one for this whole nation and, indeed, the planet. We are in an age in which 70 per cent of the world's fisheries are in collapse or have collapsed.
Senator Bernardi interjecting—
We are getting some very embittered comments from the coalition opposite, who do not value the global significance of the Coral Sea in the way that the Greens do. This motion acknowledges that next year will be the 70th anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea in 1942. That, of course, is part of the history not just of this nation but of our relationship with the United States. President Obama will be here next week. I would have thought it would be an enormously wonderful opportunity to flag the potential of a great national park where that great battle took place in the run to the 70th anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea next year. That is the prospect that we have inherent in this motion.
Consultation is important. It has been going on for a long time. Our challenge to the government is to ensure that everything possible is done to make this great potential declaration of a national park in the Coral Sea come to reality in time for that 70th anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea next year.
With regard to motion 546 moved by the Greens, quite obviously we are in the process of trying to get to an outcome. With regard to coal seam gas, it was a very clever political move by the Greens—
As is their usual wont, the Greens are not prepared to accept any other view than their own. As Senator Ludwig has quite rightly said, there are a number of views that relate to this particular matter. The coalition is very concerned that the consideration of any lock-up of Australian territory, whether it be terrestrial or marine, goes through a proper process of consultation and also considers the views of all, including the science. The Greens, in their desire to rampantly lock up anything that is available, completely and utterly ignore the world-leading fisheries management and marine management systems that we have in place in this country.
If the Greens are in any doubt about the quality of those systems, they need only read the Fishery status report 2010, which was released only two weeks ago and which demonstrates quite clearly the strong recovery and strong situation that marine stocks and fisheries stocks in Australia's territorial waters are in. That is because of the strength of management of our systems within Australia.
So the desire of the Greens to lock up huge swathes of Australian territory, either terrestrial or marine, in contravention of the real science rather than the concocted science we so often see placed on our plate by the Greens, is not supported by the coalition. We are in support of a proper consultative process that provides for the views of all rather than just the few. Therefore, we will not be supporting this motion.
That the motion (Senator Bob Brown's) be agreed to.
The Senate divided. [15:50]
(The Deputy Speaker—Senator Parry)