Wednesday, 20 June 2012
Matters of Public Importance
I have received a letter from the honourable member for Wide Bay proposing that a definite matter of public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely:
The adverse impact on fishing and coastal communities of the Government’s marine reserve declarations
I call upon those members who approve of the proposed discussion to rise in their places.
More than the number of members required by the standing orders having risen in their places—
The government's unilateral decree to lock up another 1.3 million square kilometres of our seas, more than doubling the number of marine reserves from 27 to 60, has nothing to do with sustainably managing marine environments or fisheries. It is just another empty gesture for the environment; but it is certainly a cruel barb for many coastal regions. This has a lot more to do with hooking a few Greens preferences at the next election or renting the Greens support for another week in this parliament than it has to do with anything about the environment—and that is the real catch. But it has real consequences for Australian commercial and recreational fishers and the regional communities which support them.
When 'lock it up!' is the government's approach to vast areas of Australia's territorial waters, is it any wonder that our supermarkets are overflowing with imported seafood? It is a remarkable fact that Australia imports a massive 72 per cent of the seafood we eat. For a vast island nation surrounded by sea, that is simply bizarre. We control much of the area of the planet's oceans. Australia's exclusive economic zone in terms of sheer scale is third in the world behind only the United States and France, yet we are not allowed to feed ourselves with our own fish. There is no doubt, of course, that we must conserve our oceans and be conscious of the breeding grounds and the seasons so that they can be sensibly harvested. Indeed, to swim or snorkel or dive on the Great Barrier Reef is one of the truly remarkable experiences of life. The wonders of our oceans and the reefs are truly awe-inspiring and they must always be preserved. Our fishing industry understands this only too well and is at the forefront of managing sustainable fisheries. Our recreational fishers and our marine tourism industries understand that the value of their entire industry is dependent upon having a sustainable environment, but they have been ignored.
The government's claim of consultation is a sham. Nor has there been any attempt to justify these new parks on the basis of science or transparent evidence. At no stage has there been fair dinkum feedback or a willingness to listen to the communities. Rather we have seen bureaucrats descend on communities and lecture people about what to expect. They have not been genuinely engaged in taking on board industry or recreational fishers or community concerns. In reality, the government has no appetite to negotiate on the details of its marine parks decree. The Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities has presented it to the people, the businesses and the community as a fait accompli, saying to take it or leave it. There is supposed to be a 60-day consultation period but in his media release on 14 June 2012 the minister said:
It's too late for people to say I want this line shifted or I want this zone painted a different colour.
The question now is very straightforward: do we go ahead with the most comprehensive marine park network in the world or do we not?
Minister, is there going to be a genuine consultation period or is there not? If your press release is be relied upon, then the issues are all closed, and the government is not going to even listen to the concerns of people who are affected.
The extension of Australia's system of marine reserves according to the Pew Environment Group is a consequence:
… of a determined coalition of 15 Australian and international conservation groups …
This coalition was made up of almost half foreign groups, funded from overseas and doing very little in their own countries sometimes about creating environmental and sustainable fisheries, but seeking to impose upon Australia an enormous addition to our environmental reserves.
Between them these sorts of people are opposed to virtually every element of human existence. They want to ban wild catch fisheries, yet they oppose virtually every aquaculture application that is ever proposed. They do not want us to eat meat, they do not want us to use farmed animals and they do not want us to harvest native animals. They do not want us to grow crops because crops might use water or fertiliser or chemicals. Well, what are we expected to live on in this country if every hectare of sea and of land is to be declared a national park?
Over the last 30 years Australia has led the way in developing management plans for the sustainable use of our fishery resources. Since the introduction of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, all Commonwealth fisheries have been required not only to guarantee the sustainability of the targeted fisheries but also to ensure the sustainability of the impact of removing target stock on other species. This might be the impact of predators of that stock or the impacts of bycatch populations. A comprehensive investment by Australia in the use of bycatch reducing devices and innovative fishing practices to eliminate the interaction of iconic non-target species like sea birds, turtles and seals have now been adopted and recognised around the world as the best sustainable fishing practice.
We do not see the propaganda of the Labor government and the Greens showing images of whiting or flathead or prawns. Instead we have pictures of seals, manta rays, turtles and seahorses. No-one in the scientific community would suggest that these are being exploited by Australian fisheries or that they are at risk in any Australian jurisdiction. The reality is the Australian people were taken aback when the government chose its location for this great announcement. It was an aquarium with a backdrop of stingrays and coral and conveniently passing turtles. These species are not at threat. It will be no surprise to both coastal communities and recreational fishers that they have never targeted any of these creatures by their activities.
If you go to the Coral Sea declaration, the eastern boundary of the declared closure adjoins waters that are heavily finished by foreign fishing vessels. We know that the presence of Australian vessels is something of a deterrent to this fleets targeting our fish in our own waters. That has to be the case because the government has so downgraded surveillance of our fisheries that there is going to be no-one there to actually supervise and ensure that other countries simply do not take up the fish that we are seeking to preserve. With the level of surveillance we have on our waters at the present time, the only vessels that will be fishing in these new marine reserves will be those who are not Australian. Other vessels will simply come in and take the fish that we have nicely fattened up for them in our reserves and they will sell them on around the world. The government cannot have a credible reserve policy unless it also has an appropriate surveillance policy.
For as long as I can remember, I have been listening to claims by environmental extremists that the Great Barrier Reef is being destroyed, it is being ruined. They claim the crown-of-thorns starfish destroyed the whole Barrier Reef at least five times a year, if you listen to the media. The coalmining is going to destroy the reef, the ships running aground have destroyed the reef—all 2,000 kilometres of it. Captain Cook ran aground there. That must have destroyed the reef as well. The farmers, of course, are always destroying the reef with chemicals and fertilisers. The tourists destroy it, the dams and the urban development destroy it. The droughts, when there is not enough water for it, destroy it. When there are floods, it gets destroyed again. If you listen to the environmental groups, the Great Barrier Reef has been destroyed every year. You know, when I visit the reef, it is just as beautiful. magnificent and awe-inspiring as it has ever been—a true wonder of the world that needs to be looked after and needs to be carefully managed. But what this government is doing is in fact damaging the capacity to manage that area rather than enhancing it.
We all know that the Coral Sea declaration is not about protecting the environment; it is about green votes. In May 2009 the former Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts used emergency provisions in the EPBC Act that gave him the ability to declare a conservation zone.
The conservation zone provisions are meant to provide emergency protection over an area—protection from some sudden, unexpected, emergent threat—to give the minister some breathing space to consider what long-term protection might be needed. This move was a clear and obvious abuse of the act. There was no emerging threat. There was none. There were no applications for new fishing licences, no applications for mining. There was nothing. The minister did not even try to make one up. He just abused the act.
According to marine scientist Professor Ray Hilborn, from the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences at the University of Washington, the motives for non-government organisations going into denial about the fisheries management in Australia are deplorable. He recognised our fisheries management as the best in the world. I have heard the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities proudly boast that our fisheries management is the best in the world and I agree with him. But Australia has been subject to a relentless antifishing campaign that is causing the doom and gloom myths from misrepresentations of overseas examples of inadequate fisheries management.
Hanging up a 'no-fishing' sign over so much of Australia's coastline is just another stunt so the Prime Minister can laud herself at the United Nations Rio Plus 20 conference in Brazil this week. She is now tired of lecturing Europeans on economic management. After all, with her $174 billion deficits, she does not have much to boast about. On fisheries management we do have a lot to boast about, but the Prime Minister is going to overlook that and instead look to the massive increase in areas that are being locked up around Australia's coastline.
As I said before, we import 72 per cent of the seafood we eat, despite having one of the largest fishing zones in the world. In 2009-10 Australia produced 171,000 tonnes of seafood from wild catch. These statistics are stunning. By comparison, New Zealand's catch was 441,000 tonnes, from an area half as big as Australia's. They caught three times as many fish in an area half the size. Thailand catches 14 times more fish than we do, despite having a fishing area 10 times smaller than ours. So it is not hard to see that the government's marine park declarations have nothing to do with environmental management of our seas. We are exporting our demand for seafood to countries less concerned about marine management than we are. Australia harvests fewer than 30 kilograms of fish per square kilometre of its ocean territory, compared to a global average 20 times greater than that, at around 750 kilograms per square kilometre.
So we are not raping and pillaging our fisheries. There is no-one in the world that can match our management record, but there is a human cost. About 100,000 people are still left directly employed in the Australian fishing industry and 3.4 million people engage in recreational fishing each year. Senator Conroy confirmed in the Senate on Monday that these parks will have a significant impact on the recreational fisheries. In fact, recreational fishermen, in an area inside 100 kilometres from shore, will be shut out of a staggering 63,000 square kilometres. So the reality is that this will have an effect on fishermen, their families and their communities.
Labor is penalising the wrong people. Australian fishers have been doing the right thing, going about their business in a sustainable and environmentally conscious way. Now, all they are going to be offered is some more compensation. Some of these people have already had several lots of compensation. They have been moved from place to place. I acknowledge that sometimes it was at the hands of our government. But at least under our government $250 million worth of compensation was supplied—not that that was much comfort to the families who had been so adversely affected.
But this government is now offering only about a third of that amount of compensation—we are told $100 million—and yet the area to be affected is vastly greater. It is clear that there will not be decent compensation available to all those fishermen affected, let alone to the communities around Australia which have been adversely affected.
This is a policy response that is in search of a problem. The problem is not that Australian's waters are overfished. We harvest only 30 kilograms of fish per square kilometre. The global average, as I said before, is 20 times greater. We import so much of the fish that we eat. We are now going to import it from fisheries that do not have the standards of management that we have in this country. So, please, Minister, do not respond flippantly. Many families and businesses are affected. Some have already been hurt many times. The majority of fishermen have already left the industry, but there are many who will want to continue to work in this industry. We should certainly not be expected to continually increase our reserve areas just because environmentalists demand more and more and more.
It is a pleasure to be here today and have the opportunity to respond to the MPI from the member for Wide Bay. I think there are some very useful things I could do elsewhere, but it is always a pleasure to be here with you. You get about as much sunshine in the meeting room over there as I expect you do in a meeting room over here, but it is a pleasure to be here in tropical Canberra.
I want to deal with a few issues at the start that were raised by the member for Wide Bay. First of all, the claim that there is a lack of a scientific basis for the work that is being undertaken is more than a little bit silly. The member for Wide Bay, Leader of the Nationals, may well presume that the document I held up in question time, I think, two days ago with a photograph of the member for Wentworth in it is the only document underpinning the science as the basis for the decisions that are in front of us. Of course, the document that I held up was in relation to the scientific work that had been undertaken only on the south-west marine region. But similar volumes have been done, all of which are available publicly for the east marine region, the north marine region and the north-west marine region. We then had the additional drafts for consultation, which have been done across the north-west, north, south-west and temperate east regions. You cannot judge quality of science by the kilo, but it is a lot more than what the member for Wide Bay was wanting to claim in terms of scientific underpinnings.
At the core of the argument that the member for Wide Bay has put—and I think it is important for us to deal with this directly—is a presumption that this is a fisheries management decision. The member for Wide Bay knows full well and he would not have to talk to the member for Wentworth for very long to understand that this is not a fisheries management decision; it is not done for those purposes. The science underpinning it is not done that way—in the same way as the science you do when you determine where a national park will be is different from the science you do when you work out whether or not a state forest is being overharvested. It is the exact same principle. You have your overharvesting rates in a state forest, where you know how hard you can go to make it work sustainably. That is how our fisheries are managed, and our fisheries are managed under those methods very, very well.
If you do not have a policy belief that there is a value in having some areas of our land and of our oceans preserved as national parks then you would never support the sort of science on which this is based. But if you have a view, which most Australians do have, that there is actually value not in having the whole country as state forests but in having some areas reserved as national parks, in picking some areas that you reserve for nature—if you see value in that—then that is where you get the difference in the scientific underpinnings of this. You could run an argument that says, 'But the Royal National Park could be sustainably harvested,' and there would be a pace at which you could do it. But you would wreck something pristine and magnificent, and you would do something that Australians do not believe ought to happen. That is the principle. That is the basis of the decisions that have been made with respect to our oceans.
I do have to remind the Leader of the Nationals when he talks about how close in these areas are with respect to—
Mr Ian Macfarlane interjecting—
The desperation from the member for Groom really says it all. Please do not remind us how far out these areas are. If you are in Airlie Beach, to get to one of the new areas of protection you have to travel for 340 kilometres. If you are in Brisbane, you have to travel for 445 kilometres. If you are in Bundaberg, you have to travel for 492 kilometres before you get to a place where you cannot drop a line. I had a question yesterday from the member representing the area of Darwin, the member for Solomon, where the distance to get to the nearest spot where you cannot drop a line is 680 kilometres. We had photographs in the West Australianwhich I am sure delighted members of the opposition—when the maps were put out which showed people casting a line from the beach, with a headline as to how people were going to be denied access to fishing. Now I know there are people who can cast a line a fair way, and I have checked: the world record goes just under 250 metres. But if you went out as far as the longest cast can go and you kept going and you kept going and you kept going, after about 30 casts off the Western Australian coast, you may well get to an area where it is a problem to drop a line. On the Queensland coast, you are looking at a massively greater distance. So, please, do not pretend that for the ordinary recreational fisher they are somehow locked out of fishing. The Leader of the Nationals talked about a no-fishing sign up on our coastline—on our coastline! Unless he has some concept that when you stand on the coastline you are actually looking at something that far beyond the horizon then the argument is misleading in the extreme, and the Leader of the Nationals knows it.
There have been some issues raised. Some members of parliament who have game-fishing tourism operations in their electorates have questioned to what extent these could have an impact within the Coral Sea, because I have added a number of reefs—Osprey, Vema, Shark, Bougainville and Marion reefs—to what was originally in the draft maps. I would ask members to have a think about what sort of fish those game-boat operators go out to catch, because they do not go out travelling and powering out for more than a day in order to catch the reef fish that they could have caught in fishing zones in the Great Barrier Reef. If they are going all that way out, then they are going out for the big pelagic fish; that is what they are going out for—chasing the marlin and those sorts of tours. Have a look at the maps. With the exception of Bougainville Reef and the northernmost end of Osprey Reef, when you look at the rest of the maps you will see that the shape of the highly protected zone follows very close in, within the contours of the reef. And the recreational fishing organisations understand this. Some of the game-boat operators have been told things that are false, but if they go through the maps they will see that. Bougainville is different; Bougainville has been done in a square. But that is a much smaller reef than the others and not a particular spot where you have tourism operations. But if you actually have a look at how the maps have been drawn for those big pelagic game-fishing operations, they have not been drawn in a way that will cause any challenges for them in being able to have those fishing tours. They will not be able to go to the key dive sites where the areas are further out because, once you do get a few hundred metres away from the reef, at those points, you are much less likely to catch a big pelagic fish. But, as you get further south on Osprey and as you go through Shark, Vema and down to Marion, you do get close enough that those tours will still be able to run. There has been a lot of misinformation given to those individual businesses. But all I would say is: for the best evidence, go and have a look at the maps themselves.
I was asked in question time today, and it is relevant to now: 'What are the views of the different organisations?' I was asked for just one. I thought Peter Lindsay was not a bad one, as someone who was as representative as somebody could be within this parliament, but I accept the criticism that the Liberal-National Party is not a representative organisation. I fully accepted the point of order that was taken.
So let us look at some of the people who actually live in those electorates. Col McKenzie, the deputy director of the Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators said:
I am sure there are some fishing charter operators who will be concerned . . . but it will actually improve tourism generally from the fact it will increase Australia’s profile overseas, particularly among high-end tourists who have high environmental awareness.
Chris Makepeace, Executive Officer of the Amateur Fishermen's Association of the Northern Territory said, 'Basically, there is virtually no impact for recreational fishermen in the Northern Territory, and that is good news.' Paul Anderson, Eurobodalla Shire Council General Manager, said the changes were not likely to have a big impact on recreational fishing in the area. Darren Kindleysides of the Australian Marine Conservation Society said: 'This is a landmark announcement for our seas and one of the most significant advances for environmental protection in Australia's history.' Daniel Gschwind, the Queensland Tourism Industry Council chief, said: 'Most concerns on better protection of reefs, dive sites and game boat access had been met and this was welcome.' Then there is Tony Lagana, manager of the Bermagui Fisherman's Co-op, and this is from the commercials. He said:
That is my favourite of the quotes!
We are dealing with an opposition that dearly wants to run a line that you can no longer go to the end of a jetty and drop a line. The problem is that in Australia we do not have jetties that long. In Australia we do not have jetties that go for the full length of a state border. We do not have jetties in Australia that reach these sorts of waters—and most wreck fishers never get out to these waters at all. The ones who do, if they are in a commercial operation, are chasing the large pelagic fish that they will still be able to access everywhere other than at the principal dive sites.
No matter how many times the National Party try to dress this issue up as though it is something about minor parties in this parliament, make no mistake, environmental protection for more than three decades has been a cornerstone of what Labor does. We do not need to feel there is some sort of pressure from any other party in this place. The Greens, let us not forget, were critical of these proposals when they came out.
What we have here is something proudly in the Labor tradition of environmental reform. We do not need to feel that there is some sort of pressure out there. This is what Labor does—in the tradition of the party that saved the Franklin, in the tradition of the party that saved the Daintree and in the tradition of the party that protected Coronation Hill and made sure that we expanded Kakadu National Park. Every time we did one of those things, those opposite ridiculed it and those opposite opposed it—every single time. When we said we were going to protect the environment, those opposite said: 'It will be a disaster and you can't do it.'
They have done this every time, without exception. When it was the Franklin, they said no. When it was the Daintree, they said no. When it was Kakadu, they said no. We now talk about being the world leader on protection of the oceans, and what did they say? No. That is the only way they ever respond to environmental reform. Then they will come up with some sort of plan at election time where, in a few suburbs here and there, they will go around planting a whole lot of trees—and that apparently makes them good environmental warriors!
The public is onto the con. The public realises the environmental vandalism that lies at the heart of the arguments put by those opposite. The public understands that, effectively, the view of the oceans put by those opposite is that they should do less than what happened under the Howard government. The arguments they put forward mean the member for Wentworth would never have taken action in the south east at all. It would have been done on the basis of fisheries management, which effectively means the entirety of our oceans get run as though they are nothing more than a water version of a state forest.
This side of the parliament understands there is essential value in some parts of our planet being pristine. We have an understanding that Australians—as a nation of people who not exclusively but overwhelmingly live along our coastline—share a relationship with our oceans and they value them being protected. To establish a national parks estate in our oceans is something sufficiently good that Labor stands here and does it. It is something sufficiently right that Australia has no hesitation, under a Labor government, of being the world leader. It is something which those opposite know strikes a chord with Australians—sufficiently strongly that not one of them has said they have the guts to undo it. So they are playing the same old pattern.
Did they, when they got into government, try to undo the Franklin? They made all the noises about it but when it came to it they knew that we were on the right of history. Did they end up revisiting Joh Bjelke-Petersen's ideas to clear-fell parts of the Daintree rainforest to make it a major residential development? They railed against it for years. They are railing against it right now. Did they have the guts to write to the World Heritage Committee and ask for it to be delisted? Absolutely not. Did they then want to turn Coronation Hill back into a uranium mine and undo the work of Kakadu National Park? Not a chance.
Then we have the crocodile tears they cry right now—all backed up with a campaign trying to make people believe a lie, trying to make wreck fishers believe that there are impacts they know are not there, trying to run an argument that says there will be an impact on commercial fisheries way beyond one to two per cent of the gross value of production. They try to make up every single argument but, at the heart of it, if they believed a word, if they believed that they were on the right side of history with those sorts of mincing words, they would promise to undo it.
Listen to the next speakers. Ask why none of them have done it. Ask why, when it was so important for me to be here this week, not one frontbencher was willing to chance their own to ask a question about it. Why have they put it all off to the backbench and let them run their local stories but not one person from the frontbench put themselves forward? It is because they know the core question to them is: Would you undo it?
I rise to speak on this matter of very great importance to the public. The widespread proposals for locking up millions of square kilometres of Australia's waters by the environment minister, Tony Burke, is yet another grand-sweeping statement—one of those grand gestures from Labor. In harness with Christine Milne and the Greens, Tony Burke has decided that he, the minister, is going to single-handedly save Australian waters from the marauders.
He has a bit of form in this area. He was previously the minister for agriculture and four years ago he led a delegation to discuss Australia's southern bluefin tuna quotas, along with that other great green warrior, the now education minister, Peter Garrett. He meekly surrendered almost 30 per cent of Australia's tuna quota. He was out of step then and the science was out of step. It was later proved tuna numbers were well and truly on the increase already. Some of that quota has been returned already. This minister was on the wrong side of science then and he is on the wrong side of it again.
We do not know as much about our deep waters in Australia's care as we would like to. In fact, this grand statement has the possibility of becoming another monument to the government like the Building the Education Revolution or even perhaps the Prime Minister's own favourite, Medicare Gold—you might remember that one—or pink batts. In fact, there are many in the industry who maintain that this park declaration is the new live cattle dispute.
The focus has been on the Coral Sea, and I will briefly touch on that before I get to South Australian waters. Walter Starck, from the Townsville based Australian Environment Foundation—and, according to Keith De Lacy, the former Labor Treasurer of Queensland, one of the foremost proponents, one of the greatest experts in this area—has said:
... well-managed reefs around the world can sustain an average seafood harvest rate of 15,000kg per square kilometre per annum. The average harvest rate for the Great Barrier Reef is 9kg. That's right, 9kg, or if you like a minuscule 90g per hectare.
That is really walloping the waters, isn't it? He says further:
Australia has by far the largest per capita fishing zone in the world yet we import two-thirds of our seafood—
In fact, he is not quite correct; I think it is 72 per cent. So we are underperforming in a major way in our Australian waters. We import 72 per cent of our seafood from countries that are overpopulated and are probably overfishing their waters. If the government were really serious about saving fish in the world, they would ban seafood—but I do not see them sticking their hand up for that.
I will turn to South Australia, my home state. My electorate of Grey contains around 70 per cent of the coastline. So, consequently, we have a fair bit of the fishing. The South Australian marine industry and our aquaculture industry are centres of excellence. They are well managed by anybody's standards and, in fact, are recognised around the world for their fisheries management.
The wild catch in South Australia is worth around $300 million per annum and the aquaculture contribution is around $200 million. You might think that is not linked but it is, because the bulk of the aquaculture comes from farmed tuna; in fact, initially wild caught tuna—something I spoke about before with respect to the minister's previous decisions.
It is a very interesting industry. They steam hundreds of kilometres into the Great Australian Bight, where a very sophisticated surveillance system identifies the schools of tuna. The fishermen net them and then drag the tuna hundreds of kilometres back to Point Lincoln where they are grown out in tuna farms. That industry was developed because that fishery, during the seventies, was fished to the point of extinction. At one time fishermen were catching around 40,000 tonnes a year and then it crashed. The fishermen, the industry and the government recognised that we had a serious problem and that is when serious fisheries management was put into place, the farms were established and the industry has recovered. In fact, we have never fished any species in South Australian waters into extinction.
At the same time as the Commonwealth is planning its new parks, in a related matter, the South Australian government have been on the same boat. They have been out there declaring marine parks willy-nilly all over the place. In fact, they wanted to lock up 40 per cent of state waters in marine parks—19 marine parks, 16 of which are in my electorate of Grey. I can tell you that there has been absolute public outrage, and it is being reignited by the Commonwealth's grab for an enormous patch of water around Australia. The public outrage has forced the state government back to the renegotiation process—back to the drawing board. The Australian Marine Alliance CEO, Dean Logan, has said South Australia will be hit by a double whammy with state and federal marine parks joining up.
I told you a bit about the tuna. Let me tell you about another fishery on my patch, and that is the South Australian Spencer Gulf prawn fishers. There are 39 boats operating in this industry and they turn around about $40 million a year. They are in state waters, but this is one of the best managed fisheries in the world. I have been on board these prawn trawlers. With every drag of prawns they deliver on deck, they report back to the fleet commander on the size and the quantity they have managed to fish in that area and, as soon as the size drops, they pull out of the area; as soon as the quantity drops, they pull out of the area. This is incredibly sophisticated and well managed, and it has industry backing. This is the kind of management we see across South Australian waters, and the fishing is not under pressure at any point. The rock lobster industry is well managed and the abalone industry is well managed.
The minister was just on his feet a few minutes ago telling us that the new parks are not about fish; this is not about fisheries management. Well what on earth is it about? Once you get into these off-coast waters, no-one else goes there. It is only the commercial fishermen. These are the industries that sustain Australia.
I do not think in many cases we fully understand what is in these waters. Let me tell you another thing about the tuna industry: the tuna's food once in the fish farms is pilchards. We import most of our pilchards, for crying out loud. A pilchard industry has been established near Point Lincoln. Because of the price of imported pilchards, they can only afford to steam around 150 kilometres before they return to Port Lincoln. Going further—to 200 kilometres—it starts to become too expensive to harvest them.
Around 10 or 12 years ago we had an enormous kill-off of pilchards. They virtually disappeared from our waters. This was a great calamity. No-one knew what caused it, but there was this enormous kill-off of pilchards and we wondered how quickly stocks would recover. It recovered in about four months. You could not find a pilchard in the water, and four months later they were back again. There is only one explanation for that: it is actually part of a far, far bigger fishery than was previously understood. That has not led to a greatly expanded pilchard fishery as yet because of the economic concerns that I outlined. But it shows us that we do not fully understand what fish species and what numbers are in these areas that the minister wants to now lock up and make sure that no-one ever even finds out. When it comes to compensation, the South Australian industry has lodged a claim against the South Australian government for $500 million worth of damage for losses due to the state marine parks. The federal minister has said, 'Well, $100 million will be enough for all of Australia.' In fact, the estimate is—this is Dean Logan again—40 times that amount, around $4 billion.
I would like to read a little bit from Brian Jeffriess, who fronts up the tuna fishermen's association, but is a good spokesman for a lot of South Australian fisheries. He said:
… The Government has acted very logically in fisheries management up until now - this was never required, … What is symbolic about this is in the minister's statement itself - all this about the biggest and best, the biggest and best in the world and you have to believe that's what it's about, beating your chest in front of the rest of the world rather than good ecosystem management.
It is with great enthusiasm that I rise to speak on this matter of public importance put forward by the Leader of the Nationals, Mr Truss, on the adverse impact on fishing and coastal communities of the government's marine reserve declarations. I deliberately wanted to read out the title, because anyone listening to the previous speakers from the Liberal-National Party coalition would notice that they have not actually touched on that at all. They have been spinning a yarn and trying to engage politically, but they are not actually going to the respected science in this whole process and the actual consequences.
Let us get a bit of the history on the record straightaway. This process has been underway since Prime Minister Paul Keating was in the Lodge. Since then, there was a Liberal-National Party coalition in government for 12 years. They oversaw the same process, the same regime, the same science and the same process in terms of compensation. So let's get the facts on the table right from the start.
We have had crazy suggestions in question time from, I think, the member for Dawson, that there are no collective groups that actually support this process. I just looked through my Courier MailI do actually read the Courier Mail, the paper of record in the great state of Queensland. It is worth having a look at it, because there is a full-page ad from 19 and 20 May—
Mr Ian Macfarlane interjecting—
I will not take that interjection from the member for Groom. It is a full-page ad that says 'It is time to protect Australia's Coral Sea'. If you had been reading the Courier Mail, you would have seen it. This is by Gary Heilman from DeBrett seafood and on behalf of the longline fishermen in the Coral Sea. It is cosigned by Daniel Gschwind, the CEO of Queensland Tourism Industry Council, and Mike Ball from Mike Ball Dive Expeditions. So the reality is there has been a great consultation process overseen by the Keating, Howard, Rudd and Gillard governments.
Why is it important to get the facts on the table upfront? Because the reality is that, when it comes to protecting the environment—something we take very seriously as parliamentarians—when you strip out the politics, both sides of the chamber in Australian politics respect the environment and do our bit.
Australia is a nation where most of us have come from across the sea. Our roots go across the sea; 98 per cent of Australians have roots stretching across the sea. We know that the ocean is important. Australia is responsible for 11 per cent of the world's surface—an incredible amount of the world that we look after. We are a trading nation, so we understand how important it is to make sure that we have good connections with the rest of the world but we also know how these opportunities to protect the environment only come along every now and then. We heard the environment minister, Minister Burke, talk about those great moments in history—the Franklin, and those other ones—where people made decisions. I seem to recall it was actually the environment minister, Mr Newman, the father of Campbell Newman, the Queensland Premier, who actually took on Joh Bjelke-Petersen over something called Fraser Island, and said: 'No, Joh, you've got it wrong. You don't just strip-mine the lot. We are actually going to protect this significant piece of Australia.' That is the approach to significant blocks of earth of Australia that can only have certain biodiversity. You protect it for our children. So thank goodness that the environment minister, Mr Newman, had the courage to stand up to Joh Bjelke-Petersen. This is our chance to be that brave and protect the planet.
I was up at the War Memorial yesterday laying a wreath with a veteran of the Coral Sea—Hollyoak was his name. When you have the RSL, the French government through New Caledonia, the Howard government and the Labor Party all on the same ticket, it takes a special Leader of the Opposition to break that unity ticket. When you can get the French and the RSL and the Labor Party and the Howard government all on the one page, and then get Tony Abbott, the Leader of the Opposition, the member for Warringah, to come in and break ranks with that unity ticket, that is a special knack; that really is incredible.
Why is that? Let's have a look. Let's go back to the 2010 election and Senator Boswell's duplicitous campaign in Queensland. It was a very sneaky, quick campaign that we did not have a chance to rebut. It did not get a lot of traction in Moreton; that is why I am here telling you the truth. Perhaps in Bonner it did get a little bit more traction. Thankfully Moreton is a little bit far away from the jetties where people go off into Moreton Bay, despite the name of the electorate. The reality is that Senator Boswell managed to fool some people hook, line and sinker and say that there was going to be no fishing basically because of the Labor-Greens alliance. It was disgraceful misrepresentation.
We said that we would price carbon; that is what we said. The reality is that we went to the 2007 election saying that we would price carbon, and that is what we have achieved. You know, member for Groom; you were in the negotiations. I heard those negotiations in Taipei. So, remember that we did have a CPRS deal where we priced carbon and, but for one vote in the coalition party room—where someone actually spoiled a ballot paper because they could not vote for Turnbull or Abbott—we would have had a CPRS. If we had had the Greens vote along with the vote of Senator Sue Boyce from Queensland, who had the courage to join Senator Troeth from Victoria, we would have a CPRS and Tony Abbott would be consigned to the pages of history.
Th e protection of the Coral Sea and the seas in th e rest of Australian is a great moment in the history of this parliament . W e can actually protect something for our children and our grandchildren.
The reality is that we are yet to see the emails flowing into our offices from people saying , 'W e can 't go fishing. ' The electorate of Moreton is a long way from the Coral Sea , b ut I am proud to say I married a North Queenslander, a Trinity Bay High girl from Cairns. All my in - laws are in Tully , Babinda and Innisfail and they have tinnies, and they go fishing . T hey go to the reefs. But I can tell you that they do not go 450 kilometres out. I trust my in - laws — mostly !—but I am not going 450 kilometres out in any tinny ; I can tell you that.
The reality is that we will still be able to go fishing . There is a great history, going back to Lee M arvin . If you go to b each resort s you can see those photos of Lee Marvin . B ack in the seventies fishing was bringing Hollywood to North Queensland . Tourists went out after these pelagic fish ; they went to catch marlin . Since then North Queensland has been world famous, when it comes to bringing tourists in. And this legislation will complement it. That is why you have Mike Ball, from Mike Ball Dive Expeditions saying, proudly, 'Get this done.' We will have a great product to sell around the world.
North Queensland is suffering at the moment in terms of jobs and tourism.
Mr Christensen interjecting —
The reality is that this is part of the product. It is niche tourism rather than the mass brand. We have to have a niche market, and North Queensland can market itself as the pristine environment. The reality is—
I understand the member for Dawson's concerns that he will not be able to stand on the beach at Mackay and cast 450 kilometres out to the Coral Sea as he used to! He will have to go out with an expedition or the like.
The reality is that the Coral Sea marine reserve is important in so many ways. The scientists agree—the same scientists that advised the Howard government. It was the same process that the Howard government went through, when that crazy left-wing environment minister—
David Kemp. I always get the brothers mixed up. He understood. Peter Lindsay—for heaven's sake!—recognised that this was something to be proud of and that we should be taking a step in history and doing the right thing. I would suggest that he was not exactly a crazy left-winger!
Thank you. As a person who lives at the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef and in close proximity to the Coral Sea, I have found this debate extraordinary. Before I got into parliament my job was in regional development—specifically, in industry and tourism. So I know a bit about the Great Barrier Reef and the coastal areas of Queensland; they were my bread and butter, so to speak. I was in on the early days of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. So I do not come to this debate with any sense of ignorance and I am not speaking against science.
But I have seen the most vibrant fishing industry in Australia decimated over the last 15 years. It has been decimated by bureaucracy and government intervention. We first had a thing called the east coast trawl plan. Under the east coast trawl plan a decision by the federal and state governments took out 250 of the 750 vessels trawling along the Queensland coast. In fact, when the compensation was paid it was actually 40 more than that—290 came out. It meant a substantial decrease in effort.
Not long after that, we were told that the reef was now sustainable and that fishing could go ahead, but that GBRMPA would need another small amount—perhaps about 20 per cent. People, in good faith, said, 'Well, I suppose that's fair enough.' But when the maps came out it was not 20 per cent; it was 34 per cent. And frequently those fishing areas—the green zones that were put into the Barrier Reef Marine Park—were right over traditional fishing areas. In fact, it is alleged that the log books of the fishermen were used to some extent to plot these areas. The spanner crab industry off Bundaberg won an award as the best controlled fishery for the year before it was closed. How silly can you get?
We then had to have another reduction. It worked out in my area—the southern end of the reef: fishermen from Gladstone, Bundaberg, Harvey Bay, Tin Can Bay and perhaps some even down to Mooloolaba—that the fishing industry was reduced by 73 per cent or 74 per cent. On top of that we had the state government saying, 'We want to have complementary state zones,' which diminished still further the area available for fishing.
A lot of people, with those earlier compensations, bought vessels that could go into the Coral Sea. But now they are also going to be excluded—or, if not excluded, almost totally contained. Not that many people go there. About 20 entities go into the Coral Sea. A maximum of about 30 to 32 vessels are spread out across 1.3 million square kilometres—half the size of the state of Queensland. That is the size of the area we are talking about. As someone said earlier, there is no way in the world that the state or the Commonwealth are going to be able to control or look after this fishery, and imposing these rigid rules on ourselves is creating an absolute motza for people who want to come in on the northern side of the Coral Sea and fish the ones we have fattened up for them. What sort of idiots are we?
You might say: 'Paul, you're generalising a bit. Where's your scientific proof?' Professor Walter Starck has had 50 years experience as a marine scientist. He has a PhD from the University of Miami. He is totally familiar with our environment. What he said about this is:
Australia's fishing industry is under threat, not from depleted fish stocks but from government-financed and sanctioned extreme environmentalism—
note that, 'extreme environmentalism'—
and crippling bureaucratic controls.
Interestingly, during the recent Senate estimates, a Mr Oxley from the department admitted to the Environment and Communications Legislation Committee that was questioning him on aspects of these new marine areas in respect of the Coral Sea that there was no new scientific evidence. Professor Starck has said that, for the 347,000 square kilometres of the Barrier Reef, we are allowed to take 3,061 tonnes of fish. That means the weight of fish per square kilometre per year is nine kilograms. But, across the reefs of the Pacific that Dr Starck has also studied, the figure is 7,700 kilograms per square kilometre. Note the difference: nine and 7,700. We are being bureaucratic to a ridiculous level. Even the World Resources Institute, which you might say are not totally friendly to fisherman, have said that 4,000 kilograms per square kilometre is an acceptable, sustainable amount. And what are we taking out? Nine.
You might say, 'Why are you using the Barrier Reef?' Well, I want to move from the Barrier Reef now to the Coral Sea. The Coral Sea is a vastly bigger area. We are going from 347,000 square kilometres to 1.3 million square kilometres. We have only 20 entities with about 30 or 32 vessels going in, and we are going to close it up. If they trawled over that for the next 50 years they would not do it any damage. And all those fishermen will be the first to tell you that you leave specific sensitive areas alone. All the fishermen I have known in my lifetime want to leave a resource there for Australia. They want their sons and grandsons to have the opportunity to go out and fish those areas. They are not rapists; they do not go out just to deplete the stock, and we impose all these rules and regulations on ourselves as Australians. The rest of the world must sit back and laugh. The international trawlers that will come in on the northern side of the Coral Sea, which is outside our sphere of control anyhow, will have the time of their lives. You can see how silly it is. The point is that this is not smart science. This is a terrible block.
Recently, and I told this to the party room, Margaret asked me to go out and get some seafood marinara mix. While I was in the shop, after taking my number, I had a look at the big refrigerated fish cabinet. There were nine big stainless steel trays in there. Eight of the nine had foreign fish on them. We are importing, as the Leader of the Nationals said, 72 per cent of the fish we eat. We are not saving the planet or the environment. We are not providing fresh fish for Australians. What we are doing is shifting the effort somewhere else. In doing that, we are depriving ourselves of a rich and healthy resource, of export industries that could be sustainable for generations into the future.
A constituent recently recounted to me a story about an encounter she had had with a resident of Albany. This person was considering the case she had heard for marine parks. She recounted that she came from a former whaling family. She said, looking back, that the experience of transitioning out of whaling in the seventies was hard for her family and they opposed it at the time but that they had come to realise that it was the right thing to do. After some consideration, this person, whose family had subsequently moved into commercial fishing, felt that the move to put in place a network of marine sanctuaries was another of those important moments—the right thing to do.
Last week, the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, Tony Burke, on behalf of the federal Labor government announced the single biggest conservation decision in this nation's history: the world's first comprehensive network of marine parks and the world's single largest marine park. This week, as the world's leaders, including our Prime Minister, go from the G20 meeting in Mexico to the Earth Summit in Rio, Australia's decision to protect its oceans takes centre stage. With this unprecedented decision Australia is leading a global turning point in the official understanding and recognition of not only the critical importance of the oceans to sustaining all life on earth but also the devastating impacts of damaging fishing practices, overfishing and the damage that oil and gas drilling can have, and the need to act decisively to set aside key areas from extraction.
As the member for Fremantle I am immensely proud of the strong stand my constituents have taken in calling on the Australian government to acquit its responsibility to protect Australia's unique marine life. In particular I am humbled to have been part of their creation of a vision for the protection of one of the most intriguing and important underwater features in Australia's ocean territory: the magnificent Perth Canyon in Fremantle's very own oceanic backyard. With federal Labor's leadership the Perth Canyon and the incredible underwater ecosystem that this dynamic feature nurtures will be recognised, boosting the livelihoods of the great community of Fremantle, whose history, culture and very life force comes from the ocean.
I am particularly proud that the campaign for marine parks in WA's south-west marine region led the charge nationally in achieving a prioritisation of high-level protection for the most biologically important and threatened part of our oceans: the continental shelf. In Australia's south-west corner the marine worlds collide with the meeting of the wild Southern Ocean and the vast Indian Ocean, mixed together by the magnitude of the force of nature that is the Leeuwin Current as it races south. Our south-west, on both land and sea, is a globally recognised biodiversity hot spot, and it is this legacy of shelf protection that the people of Western Australia are creating now that delivers on the heart of the scientific imperative, and that in doing so provides a firm platform to be built on in the future.
I take the opportunity now to flag the importance of the case that the local community of the Western Australian South Coast has made, many of them long-term recreational fishers, in calling for an end to the long-term inaction by the WA state government and, in particular, the Minister for Fisheries and for Mines and Petroleum, Minister Norman Moore, over the terrible death toll of marine animals and other non-target marine life in the demersal gill nets, a gear type which is not only intolerable but also unnecessary. Hook-and-line is a far better option. This also remains the imperative in the new marine park off Jurien, the most important breeding colony for threatened Australian sea lions on WA's west coast. The community of Geographe Bay has led the way in showing this can and must be done. The next frontier for high-level protection will be the state's north-west—Shark Bay, Ningaloo, the Rowley Shoals, the Pilbara, Coral Coast and the Kimberley—areas that are increasingly at a crossroads with the expansion of resource extraction.
I pay particular tribute to the community of Margaret River, who have overcome great tragedy and challenge in recent times, maintaining control of their destinies by asserting their future as one based on a lifestyle which is the envy of the world. With the creation of a very large no-oil zone the federal government has heard their call that all extraction, like coal, has no part in the future of Margaret River. Margaret River is now flanked on the one side with the old-growth forest protected by Geoff Gallop in 2001, and on the other side with the sea, protected in 2012 by federal Labor.
Fishing is a central part of WA's lifestyle, but the decline of some important fish stocks is gravely concerning. I am excited by the possibilities that last week's announcement opens up for the important contribution it will make to the return of fish stocks to the abundant levels our forefathers knew so well. In 2005 we embraced the opportunity with the introduction of broad-scale sanctuaries in Ningaloo Marine Park, following hard on the heels of the rezoning of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park the year before. Great waves of science are now rolling in off the back of these measures, showing that marine sanctuaries are the most effective way to protect marine life. It is no accident that the best fishing spots in the world are on the edges of marine sanctuaries.
These marine parks will now boost the environmental credibility and marketability of an industry which is working its way towards industry-wide environmental certification, and I am pleased that this federal Labor government is contributing to their case. Like on land, national parks in the ocean are just common sense, so it is no surprise that new marine parks are being rolled out at this very moment by the state government of Western Australia in that state's waters. This week the Camden Sound Marine Park was created, including WA's largest marine sanctuary. Last week the Ngari Capes Marine Park was created in the capes region of the south-west and there are three more to come, including the greatly anticipated Greater Kimberley Marine Park. Such is the strength of support out west for these issues that the member for Curtin—the Deputy Leader of the Opposition—and Premier Colin Barnett are very welcome supporters. It is interesting and telling that there is no member of the opposition from Western Australia speaking on this MPI. This is because they know full well that marine protection is extremely popular in Western Australia.
I am disappointed, though, by the confusing messages that elements of the federal coalition are sending on this matter. Is this the same coalition that under John Howard put in place high-level protection over a third of the Great Barrier Reef; that under Robert Hill put in place some of Australia's largest marine parks at the Great Australian Bight, Macquarie Island and Heard and McDonald Islands; whose very own Liberal Senator Chris Back established one of WA's first marine sanctuaries at Kingston Reef off Rottnest Island, which has now been proven by the CSIRO to have boosted rock lobster levels by 500 per cent?
In this MPI debate today the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, Mr Burke, talked about the great environmental decisions that have been made by previous governments. In his publication Thoughtlines former New South Wales Premier and now Australia's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Bob Carr, points to how the big conservation decisions have played an important role in defining leadership in Australia: 'Fraser Island, the reef, New South Wales rainforests, the Franklin River, the wet tropics of North Queensland. Every one of these decisions was tough. Every one of them was politically contested. Every one of them involved the possibility of a backlash in the regions. The Australian government has got it right, and today these great natural areas saved for all time help us define ourselves as Australians.' But it has been a long time between drinks. There is a whole generation of Australians who would not have been born the last time Australia made a globally significant decision for our environment. Now young Australians can celebrate as well in the first-hand knowledge that history has been created.
Let us take a moment to stand back and see what has been done. We started with less than one per cent of Commonwealth waters protected and we now have a national network of marine reserves to protect our ocean environment for future generations. Where did this process start? It started with the Keating government and was continued by the Howard government and now the Rudd and Gillard governments. This is positive change that should be above politics. It is positive change that will benefit not only Australian diving and tourism industries but also recreational and commercial fishers.
I come from a proud fishing community. I have not had one negative response since Minister Burke's announcement last week; not one. Indeed, during the extensive consultation process leading to the announcement I worked closely with Clayton Nelson from the South West Trawl Fishery which operates in a sustainable manner in waters off Fremantle. Notwithstanding some inaccurate news reports last week, the new marine network will have no impact on Clayton's fishery; indeed, he has told us that he is very happy with the result of the federal government's marine process. Australia-wide the impact of this decision on commercial fisheries averages one per cent and for recreational fishers it is negligible. As noted in an article by Paul Gamblin in today's West Australianwhich is accompanied by a beautiful picture—interest in marine conservation in Western Australia is growing strongly, with those who have made submissions in favour of protection numbering in the tens of thousands. As Mr Gamblin notes, the real level of support this signals is much greater. And as celebrated Fremantle author Tim Winton noted in a speech in the House recently, when the bumper stickers that say 'I fish and I support marine sanctuaries' go from appearing on kombi vans to appearing on people movers, and now on tradies' utes, you know you have hit the mainstream. I am proud to be part of a federal Labor government that has made this historic decision to support our marine environment. I congratulate the minister for his vision and thank all those involved in the consultation process.
In rising to speak on this MPI, I started to choke on some of the uninformed drivel that was coming from the other side. I was particularly concerned by a couple of speakers who made light of the fact that they are going to have to walk some distance to reach Commonwealth waters. What they do not acknowledge is the fact that most of the inshore waters of these affected areas, particularly in the Coral Sea, have already been shut down. The fishermen who worked in those areas have already been forced out into the Coral Sea to continue their operations and we are now looking at shutting down those operations as well. It just shows you how uninformed those individuals on the other side are in relation to this issue.
About 25 per cent of Australia's coastal waters is already marine park. With about 25 per cent of our fishing area—the Coral Sea and other planned extensions—our marine park areas will comprise about 50 per cent of the global total. Australia has the largest per capita fishing zone and the lowest harvest rates in the world, at about one-thirtieth of the global average. We have the most restrictive and costly marine resource management in the world. Over 70 per cent of our seafood is imported, at a cost of $1.2 billion a year, from markets such as Thailand and Vietnam, where species are far more exploited. We are ripping the guts out of Third World countries. Through our own insatiable demand we are destroying their fisheries. We have done the same thing with forestry. These are the countries that can least afford to destroy their fisheries—and we are making sure that they do, while we lock up ours in their entirety. It is estimated that Australia will need to import 850,000 tonnes by 2020 to satisfy the growing consumption rate and dietary recommendations.
The Coral Sea is one of the world's prime tuna fishing grounds. The estimated value of its production has been reduced to about $8 million from 500 tonnes of tuna. That is what we are down to in this area that we are going to protect. Previously, Japanese fishermen who fished this area since the 1970s had sustainably produced around 30,000 tonnes annually for many, many years. Meanwhile Papua New Guinea licenses Asian fishing companies to fish the same migratory stocks—exactly the same fish—in its 2.4 million square kilometres of EEZ waters. In 2009 PNG took around 400,000 tonnes. In 2010 it grew to 700,000 tonnes—more than five times Australia's total catch of edible fish of all species combined. And PNG is expected to hit one million tonnes in 2011.
Meanwhile, because of all our restrictions and lock-ups, our national fishery only produces about 15,000 tonnes a year. Annual catches in the main commercially fished tuna species of skipjack, yellowfin, bigeye and albacore in the central and western Pacific area have increased continuously in recent decades, peaking in 2009 with the highest ever catch of 2.46 million tonnes recorded which was valued at $4.5 billion. This compares to the 15,000 tonnes that we are allowed to take nationally because of our restrictions. Yet Australia imports more canned tuna than any other seafood product—about $165 million worth. We save our fish so that all of these foreign fishermen—licensed by the PNG government in many cases—can catch them and sell them back to us. This is the intelligence of the mob that sits across from us!
Let us talk about the organisation that captured the minister and this mob over here and decided they would influence the change. It is called Pew. It was founded in 1948 by the Pew family, who made a fortune in oil and gas and have more than $5 billion in assets. Their company is known as Sunoco. It is one of the largest gasoline distribution companies in the United States, but it withdrew from the oil business in 2011. It made a squillion and decided to go out and create some mischief. So what did they do? They tried to become a false prophet. They claim to be an independent, non-profit, non-governmental, non-partisan and non-ideological organisation. How much of a joke is that!
They have got a conservation arm called the Pew Environment Group that literally owns this Labor government and certainly owns the minister. They say they are focusing on reducing what they see as the destruction of the world's oceans. They did not have the guts to take on the Americans. They will not go anywhere near the South-East Asian or European fisheries that already are absolutely trashed. No. They look around for the lowest common denominator. They look around for one of the only governments that is totally dependent on the Greens to survive. So they worm their way in here like the expanding gangrene that they are. They come in here and do a deal with this mob. They frighten the living hell out of them. They say, 'If you don't do a deal with us, the Greens will take away their support.' So this has nothing to do with the environment. It is all about politics. It is an absolute joke. They said 487,000 signatures came through in this email campaign—all nice, glossy ones. But 99.8 per cent of those submissions were bulk emails, and Senate estimates recently revealed that a very significant majority were from overseas. They did not even have a clue where this place was. It was just, 'Do you love your mother? Yes. Do you want to save the Coral Sea? Yes.' That is the way they do this, and it is an absolute farce. Whatever happened to Australians having a say in the management of their own waters?
Pew has a controversial history. In Canada it was accused of smothering grassroots environmental movements. It comes in with its six-figure salaries and the foundation funding, and it uses its influence to exercise control over whatever issues are brought up—the same as has happened here; exercising control over this mob over on the other side, who cannot survive without the Greens. Last month the Pew Trust made headlines by contributing funding to the cash-strapped Barnes Foundation, which looks after the famed Barnes art collection. Despite the donor's will specifying that the collection must stay in Lower Merion, Pennsylvania, Pew helped fund lawyers who fought for the collection's relocation, in violation of the will. It has been reported over there as 'the art theft of the century'.
This is the grubby mob that these guys have decided to take exclusive advice from to destroy the livelihoods of so many people in our area. Bob Lamason of Great Barrier Reef Marine Tuna, who is the only one left up there, used to pay $2,000 a vessel back in 2000 for his six boats, catching about 1,200 tonnes of tuna a year. He is now paying $160,000 a year, an average of over $50,000 per vessel, and he is now only able to catch 500 tonnes of tuna. Back then there were no bycatch restrictions, no wire traces and no VMS, and he had a much wider range. But he faced much higher fuel costs in going further and further out as they pushed him out, and they put five-hook limits et cetera on him. Basically they are driving him out of business. Lyle Squire Junior, a third-generation businessman at Cairns Marine Aquarium, was decimated back when the green zones came out. They pushed him out into the Coral Sea. We look like losing him as well over this.
Minister Burke himself admitted that the scale of the lockup in the temperate zone—because it was so small—was pay-off for the lockup in the Coral Sea. In his speech here he mentioned some fisherman from the south-east saying that he was happy with it, as did the previous speaker. Of course they were, because they traded all of them off. They are not affected by it. The same goes for Chris Makepeace, the Northern Territory recreational fisherman that he mentioned. Of course, he is not affected either. The minister did mention Col McKenzie, the CEO of AMPTO. What he did not mention is that Col McKenzie is also the campaign manager for the state Labor members up in Cairns—a long-term Labor Party member.
The minister did a deal with the dive industry to divide them from the others in the hope that he might get their support. There is a bit of a problem with that, because he is now saying that they are the ones that are going to be managing the fishery; they are going to be the policemen. But Chris Eade, the president of the Cod Hole and Ribbon Reef Mooring Holders Association, which represents nine dive businesses, has already shot down the idea of the minister. He said:
… I don't think you can expect us to be your policemen out there … I cannot expect the crews on my boats, who are civilians, to put themselves at risk. They work for me, not the Government.
This is an absolute disgrace. We have already seen businesses starting to fold on this, and there is a hell of a lot more tragedy to come out of it. (Time expired)