Senate debates

Thursday, 14 November 2019


Protection of the Sea (Prevention of Pollution from Ships) Amendment (Air Pollution) Bill 2019; Second Reading

1:57 pm

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

In the few minutes I have left I'd like to talk about my personal connection with the ocean. One of the first things I talked about in this chamber was marine pollution. Indeed, in my first speech to the Senate I talked about how passionate I as a surfer am about the marine conservation area and about the work that I and many other good people have been doing over the years to tackle pollution. The specific issue dealt with in the Protection of the Sea (Prevention of Pollution from Ships) Amendment (Air Pollution) Bill is a critical issue in my home state of Tasmania. We get a lot of visits now from cruise liners in Tasmania, especially in the port of Hobart, and there has been ongoing debate about the pollution impacts that cruise liners have had on the clean, green air of Tasmania and about the need for better regulation and higher standards.

I am very proud to say that we as a political party have been consistent in all of our efforts around tackling marine pollution. It surprised a lot of people and shocked a lot of people that I was the first member of parliament to talk about the impact of plastic on our ocean. The Senate has done some fantastic work in the last five years in looking at the impact of plastic on marine pollution and what we can do to clean up our act. The World Economic Forum estimated that by 2050, by volume, there'll be more plastic in the ocean than fish. That is a sad indictment of both the decline of fisheries globally and the amount of plastic that we are putting in our ocean. I was very excited to hear, in my conversations with Senator Van in the chamber today, that his government is planning to do something, rather than just talk about tackling the issue of marine pollution in this term of parliament. I am very much looking forward to seeing some legislation around that.

As we all know, our oceans are critical to life on earth. Many of us think of them as our life support, and we need to do everything we can, because of the cumulative impacts of marine pollution from run-offs in rivers; agricultural run-offs, which we've seen on the Great Barrier Reef, as one example; the amount of plastic and other debris which is going into our oceans every day; the acidification of our oceans from rising CO2 levels; and, of course, a whole range of other pressures.