Senate debates

Friday, 22 June 2012


Marine Sanctuaries

Photo of Ron BoswellRon Boswell (Queensland, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Mr President, as you would be aware, less than a week ago Mr Burke produced maps of the marine bioregions that encompass Australia—3.1 million square kilometres that go right around Australia. Within the boundaries of those marine bioregions, there will be no-take zones, there will be banning of trawling on all zones and there will be no fishing in the green zones. As I predicted when the announcement was made, there have been no declarations of the bioregions yet; there are 60 days to go. I am pleased that Senator Faulkner is in the Senate, because he is an old warhorse and he will be able to pick up the danger signals straightaway. I predicted there would be a fight-back. Senator Faulkner made fun of me yesterday when I said the battle of the Coral Sea would begin.

Photo of John FaulknerJohn Faulkner (NSW, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I didn't think that was an appropriate analogy.

Photo of Ron BoswellRon Boswell (Queensland, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Well, it has begun, Senator Faulkner, whether it was appropriate or not. If I have offended you, I apologise, but it has begun. In today's Australian, there was a half-page ad taken out by the Boating Industries Alliance Australia, who represent a huge number of people—I think it is about 34,000 people—that work and get their living in the marine industry. Outboard Engine Distributors Australia and the Australian Marine Engine Council, who represent the outboard motor industry, which employs many thousands of people; the Cairns Professional Game Fishing Association, which is only relatively small, with about 50 boats; Flightech, who do the spotting for the fishing; East Air; Tackleworld; and the Australian Marine Alliance. Combined—all those organisations represent a huge number of boaters and a huge number of people that get their living from selling boats. That is only the commercial arm of the marine industry.

There are five million amateur fishermen, who are represented by the amateur fishing lobby, and they are already advertising in the fishing magazines in a campaign called 'Don't lock us out'. That will be run, I presume, in all the mainstream press. You can see the coalition of forces that is starting to build up. One thing I have always learnt is: never stand between a blue-collar worker and his fishing. You will get run down every time. These blue-collar workers can swing between the Labor Party and the coalition, and one thing they are very, very concerned about is their fishing. The Australian Recreational Fishing Foundation has come out very, very strongly. It has said:

… the Government has recently approved access to a huge foreign industrial-size commercial fishing vessel the likes of which this country has never seen before, yet Mum, Dad and the kids will be "banned" from trying to catch a fish!

"Recreational anglers face being locked out of … a number of inshore iconic fishing spots such as Osprey Reef in the Coral Sea, Geographe Bay, Perth Trench and Dampier.

It is a brave, brave government, or a stupid, stupid government, that will take on this combined coalition of all the marine industries, the commercial fishing industry, the boating industry, the outboard marine industry and the tackle industry—every one of those shops. Tackleworld represents 48 retail shops, with approximate turnover of $70 million, and employs about 300 to 400 people Australia-wide, and they believe they will be directly impacted by the proposed marine parks. Every one of those shops will be a campaign office against the Labor Party. They will be there signing up petitioners and handing out anti marine bioregion literature. And it will not be only them. Rod Tweddle represents the marine industry in Western Australia—big yachts, charter boats, super yachts. They are not big in number but they are pretty influential, and they also will be campaigning against the marine bioregions. And there are many others. There is Sunfish. Sunfish represents 45,000 marine amateur anglers. So you can see that the coalition is growing and growing and growing.

When Mr Burke put down the final map, he said, 'Where to now? Shall we continue?' and I said, 'Why don't you go and ask your colleagues in marginal seats whether you should continue or not?' We will know whether the government wishes to continue—after 60 days the final declarations will be laid down. There are so many questions unanswered here. How are these adjustments going to be funded? There is no money in the budget. What is the method of adjustment? There is no socio-economic impact statement put out. But there should be. Before these declarations are made, there should be a socio-economic impact study of the towns and the processes. No-one knows whether the processes are going to be picked up in the adjustment. No-one knows whether the boats, the licences or the nets are going to be paid. Or is it just going to be 'We'll pay you a percentage of the fish that you catch'?

This could have all been answered had the government and the Greens not combined yesterday to block the Senate inquiry. As I said yesterday, if the government is proud of the marine bioregions, and if they believe in them, they should have allowed a Senate inquiry that would allow these questions to be answered. People affected by the closures would have had the opportunity to come down and put their case before a Senate inquiry. That would have given us the opportunity to find these matters out. But we are flying in the dark. No-one knows, no-one can be told. There is no management plan; there is nothing—they just put down some new maps and in 60 days the declarations can be made.

Senator Faulkner, you and I share different political opinions, but we have been around here long enough to know that, when the red flag goes up, you watch it. I am warning you that this is not a winner. You are on a hiding to nothing with this. The Greens may want it. It may be part of their agreement to go into government with you: 'If you want to be a government, you have to make these marine park closures.' Well, if I were you I would go to them with my hat in hand and say: 'Please don't insist on this. You're going to kill us.' You are going down because you are losing the blue-collar workers—the Greens are going up and you are jammed fairly in the middle. Are you gaining progressives? No. The Greens are gaining your progressives. And the coalition is gaining your blue-collar workers. Why do we have to have 70 per cent— (Time expired)