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Tuesday, 19 June 2012
Page: 6987

Marine Conservation

Ms PARKE (Fremantle) (14:39): My question is to the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. Will the minister update the House on some of the unique marine environments placed under protection in the government's marine parks announcement? Why is this protection necessary and what will be its impact on recreational fishing?

Mr BURKE (WatsonMinister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities) (14:39): I thank the member for Fremantle for the question. She has been a very strong advocate of protection of marine life and has been a very strong advocate in leading to the announcements which were made last week. In those announcements, there has been a lot of focus on what has happened on the eastern side of the country. It is important also to focus on the benefits in the south-west.

In the south-west, for example, if you are a rec fisher, you refer to this feature as the Rottnest Trench. Environmentalists refer to it as the Perth Canyon. It is a canyon underwater that is larger than the Grand Canyon that, up until now, has had no level of formal protection over it. In taking into account that it is a popular rec fishing site, there are three different heads of the canyon. One of those three heads has gone in as a marine national park; the other two have remained available for recreational use. Similarly, in the area of Geographe Bay further south—a very popular rec fishing site—we have made sure that the marine national parks have been put in places that are away from the principal boat ramps there.

While I give full credit to the member for Fremantle for her advocacy and the question that asks me why this protection is necessary, I think there are others who have made the arguments very strongly as well. I read from a page that used to be available through a link on the internet—that has now been taken down—calling on the federal government to take action by creating larger marine sanctuaries which would protect Australia's marine life and its habitat. It says:

'Australia's coastal waters are filled with unique marine flora and fauna, particularly in the south west coastal waters of Western Australia, and it is important that we encourage the protection and preservation of our marine ecological environment,' Julie said.

There was a photo of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition holding a 'Save Our Marine Life' sticker. I will not wave it around. I think it is important that I table it, though, because, even though the link has been taken down, they forgot to take down the article so it is still there on Google. You can copy but you cannot delete!

The protection arguments have been well made throughout the whole of the 'Save Our Marine Life' campaign. It has been a major issue in Western Australia, and across the benches over there is a reason why the only opposition we are hearing is being run from backbenchers. There is a reason why it is Ron Boswell who is purporting to make statements on behalf of the entire coalition, without a single frontbencher backing his position in, and that is because scattered across the back bench of those opposite they know that we should be rightly proud of being the world leader in protection of the oceans. Just as we led the way on national parks on land, Australia leads the way on national parks in the ocean.