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Wednesday, 29 February 2012
Page: 2372

WYATT ROY (Longman) (19:00): This last week I hosted a community forum in my electorate to hear from my community about their views on the proposed extension of marine park no-fishing zones. As I have shared with the House before, tourism and the fishing sector are two of the major economic drivers for my local region. In fact, several small towns strongly depend on the fishing industry for their very existence. For the people of my electorate who live in towns like Donnybrook, Toorbul, Meldale and Beachmere or on Bribie Island, any changes to marine parks will have major, lasting economic and social implications which need to be taken under serious and measured consideration before any changes are made to extend no-fishing zones.

I would like to extend my personal thanks to Senator Richard Colbeck, shadow parliamentary secretary for fisheries and forestry, Senator Barnaby Joyce and Senator Ron Boswell for making the trip to Toorbul in my electorate to discuss with stakeholders in my community an issue that is very close to my community's collective heart. Last Friday, over 90 minutes, we held a robust discussion about environmental impact, sustainability, jobs, businesses, recreational fishing and tourism—all in the context of this issue. While the 100-odd attendees made the point that environmental sustainability was important, no one person in the room was prepared to see jobs and businesses go under for the sake of a plan with no proven environmental gain.

There were several clear concerns raised by my community during the forum which need to be addressed by those opposite proposing an extension of existing marine parks. The impact of the proposed changes is threefold. The direct economic impact will be severe. Small businesses in my electorate are doing it tough and they have been for some time. The indirect economic impact will be devastating for some areas in my electorate. The extension of these zones will result in both reduced numbers of commercial fishermen and also importantly reduced numbers for recreational fishing. The ripple effect of this is frightening. Bait and tackle shops, boat builders, marinas, service stations, marine suppliers and local tourism operators will all be faced with a substantial hit on their businesses. Over the past few months I have spent countless days talking to local businesses, who have been telling me that customers are not buying because they do not have enough money to spend. Business is down and these changes will seek to make it more difficult for local small businesses to survive. Businesses tell me that the best thing government can do is to get out of their way, to stay out of their way so that they can get on with their lives.

The third effect that the proposed changes will have is a social impact on my local community. One of the great treasures of my community is its access and proximity to Moreton Bay. In fact, many families move to the region specifically because of access to Moreton Bay and the fishing it offers. Countless numbers of local families spend their weekends, or, for those lucky enough to have them, their RDOs and their days off, out on the boat, fishing in the bay. This is more than just a simple weekend activity. This is a tradition that unites families and is part of the Australian identity. Community is built on relationships, and the last thing we need is Big Brother governing how we can spend time with those in our families and communities. As Senator Joyce said at the forum, it seems that every time he turns around this government is taking away another one of his rights.

I charge the minister to think carefully about the locals whose lives and livelihoods are under threat due to this government's plans to extend marine parks. This is real people's lives and real people's futures at stake here. I do not want to see towns in my electorate go under due to a thoughtless, careless decision by this government; a decision made for political purposes, not environmental ones. The reality is this: as long as this Labor government is in alliance with the Greens, there is no guarantee, no security, for local fishermen. Under this Labor government there will be no end to the push to extend marine parks further and further.

My community, along with many others, needs security for small businesses, for family-owned businesses that are already doing it tough. They need government to stay out of the way so they can get about their lives. The last thing they need is a government that is making it more difficult for them to run their businesses and to make an earnest living. The last thing we need is a Labor-Green government that once again takes away a right. This Labor government would be better served to look to the coalition for solutions. We stand for practical environmental action, not clear political fixes. And we stand for respect and genuine consultation with the very people government policy affects.