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Thursday, 12 February 2015
Page: 615


Senator WATERS (Queensland) (13:26): I now want to move to a substantive amendment which relates to increasing the penalties and increasing the protection for threatened species across the board.

This government has sought to introduce increased protection just for turtles and dugongs. We will have some more to say about that, but if the argument is that the penalties for turtles and dugongs are inadequate then surely that argument would logically extend to all of the penalties for the take of threatened species being indeed inadequate. And so we will move this amendment, the purpose of which is to say, 'Well, clearly, protection for threatened species is inadequate and does need to be increased.' This amendment would increase the penalties for the unlawful take of threatened species across the board, so that we are not just cherry picking and saying that turtles and dugongs deserve additional protection but no other threatened species do. I think that is a nonsensical approach and so we will move to say that all species deserve increased protection.

But I want to take the opportunity to mention a few other points in this regard. Unfortunately, there have been massive staff cuts by this government to the environment department. I am concerned that the existing penalties for threatened species, including turtles and dugongs, do not have the personnel to be able to be enforced. The environment department has lost hundreds of staff. Already its budget is shrinking, and shrinking and shrinking. Unfortunately, our environmental laws are simply not being enforced. So we will move an amendment to say, 'Let's increase the penalties, but you have to enforce the laws that you have or they simply do not do anything on the ground.' So I make the point that if the government is actually serious about increasing the penalties for some species but, sadly, not serious about increasing them for all species then you have to increase the enforcement staff and you actually have to get serious about not slashing the people who are responsible for implementing these laws.

I want to speak to the impact of the focus on turtles and dugongs, because it has been quite a controversial issue. A lot of Indigenous communities in the Great Barrier Reef have been really laudable in taking voluntarily measures to stop hunting turtles and dugongs in a cruel manner—and we commend those communities for that approach. Indeed, the best approach to this management issue is to work with communities and make sure that the take of turtle and dugong that occurs in accordance with native title rights and customs does so in a manner that is at a sustainable level, that is in accordance with traditional custom and is not for commercial trade, and that, most importantly, is done humanely.

Like anyone else who saw the footage of some of the spearings of turtles, which were not conducted in a humane manner, I found it abhorrent. That is the reason why the Greens are supporting the increase in penalties for turtles and dugongs, but we still are of the firm view that you need to work with communities, and this kind of punitive approach, particularly when there are limited enforcement staff to actually make sure the rules are complied with, will not be the most effective way of stopping the cruel treatment of turtles and dugongs. We appreciate the need to address this issue. We think that the chosen way of going about it is not the most effective one, but it is important that we take steps to address the problem.

If the government is so concerned about turtles and dugongs, why on earth is it letting the biggest ever dredging and offshore dumping program that the Great Barrier Reef has ever seen roll out in this beautiful world heritage area? We know that the water quality impacts of dredging of the seabed and the dumping of that seabed, either in the water or closely onshore—as Minister Hunt is now saying he will require, though we are yet to see any change of law in that regard—are devastating to seagrass, and we know that seagrass is both the food source and the habitat for turtles and dugongs.

If the government is genuinely concerned about the health of turtle and dugong populations in the Great Barrier Reef, why on earth are you letting this massive dredging and dumping program roll out? It is because of your support for the fossil fuel sector. We know that. It is because you do not think that climate change is real, you want to send more coal ships through the Great Barrier Reef, you want to make the climate worse. We get that. But if you have at least got a concern about turtles and dugongs, think about the impact on seagrass from all of that sediment smothering the seagrass and stopping it growing, stopping that food source, stopping that breeding ground.

Senator WATERS: by leave—I move amendments (1) to (19) and (21) to (26) on sheet 7473 together:

(1) Schedule 2, heading, page 4 (lines 1 and 2), omit "turtles and dugong", substitute "listed species and communities".

(2) Schedule 2, item 1, page 4 (lines 6 to 13), omit the item, substitute:

1 Subsection 196(1) (notes 1 and 2)

   Repeal the notes, substitute:

Penalty:   Imprisonment for 2 years or 3,000 penalty units, or both.

Note: This section does not apply in the circumstances described in section 197. A defendant bears an evidential burden in relation to those circumstances. See subsection 13.3(3) of the Criminal Code.

(3) Schedule 2, item 3, page 4 (lines 16 to 21), omit the item, substitute:

3 Subsection 196A(1) (notes 1 and 2)

   Repeal the notes, substitute:

Penalty:   1,500 penalty units.

Note: This section does not apply in the circumstances described in section 197. A defendant bears an evidential burden in relation to those circumstances. See subsection 13.3(3) of the Criminal Code.

(4) Schedule 2, item 5, page 4 (line 24) to page 5 (line 3), omit the item, substitute:

5 Subsection 196B(1) (notes 1 and 2)

   Repeal the notes, substitute:

Penalty:   Imprisonment for 2 years or 3,000 penalty units, or both.

Note: This section does not apply in the circumstances described in section 197. A defendant bears an evidential burden in relation to those circumstances. See subsection 13.3(3) of the Criminal Code.

(5) Schedule 2, item 7, page 5 (lines 6 to 11), omit the item, substitute:

7 Subsection 196C(1) (notes 1 and 2)

   Repeal the notes, substitute:

Penalty:   1,500 penalty units.

Note: This section does not apply in the circumstances described in section 197. A defendant bears an evidential burden in relation to those circumstances. See subsection 13.3(3) of the Criminal Code.

(6) Schedule 2, item 9, page 5 (lines 14 to 21), omit the item, substitute:

9 Subsection 196D(1) (notes 1 and 2)

   Repeal the notes, substitute:

Penalty:   Imprisonment for 2 years or 3,000 penalty units, or both.

Note: This section does not apply in the circumstances described in section 197. A defendant bears an evidential burden in relation to those circumstances. See subsection 13.3(3) of the Criminal Code.

(7) Schedule 2, item 11, page 5 (lines 24 to 29), omit the item, substitute:

11 Subsection 196E(1) (notes 1 and 2)

   Repeal the notes, substitute:

Penalty:   1,500 penalty units.

Note: This section does not apply in the circumstances described in section 197. A defendant bears an evidential burden in relation to those circumstances. See subsection 13.3(3) of the Criminal Code.

(8) Schedule 2, items 13 to 15, page 6 (line 3) to page 7 (line 3), omit the items, substitute:

15 Subsection 211(1) (notes 1 and 2)

   Repeal the notes, substitute:

Penalty:   Imprisonment for 2 years or 3,000 penalty units, or both.

Note: This section does not apply in the circumstances described in section 212. A defendant bears an evidential burden in relation to those circumstances. See subsection 13.3(3) of the Criminal Code.

(9) Schedule 2, item 17, page 7 (lines 6 to 11), omit the item, substitute:

17 Subsection 211A(1) (notes 1 and 2)

   Repeal the notes, substitute:

Penalty:   1,500 penalty units.

Note: This section does not apply in the circumstances described in section 212. A defendant bears an evidential burden in relation to those circumstances. See subsection 13.3(3) of the Criminal Code.

(10) Schedule 2, item 19, page 7 (lines 14 to 21), omit the item, substitute:

19 Subsection 211B(1) (notes 1 and 2)

   Repeal the notes, substitute:

Penalty:   Imprisonment for 2 years or 3,000 penalty units, or both.

Note: This section does not apply in the circumstances described in section 212. A defendant bears an evidential burden in relation to those circumstances. See subsection 13.3(3) of the Criminal Code.

(11) Schedule 2, item 21, page 7 (lines 24 to 29), omit the item, substitute:

21 Subsection 211C(1) (notes 1 and 2)

   Repeal the notes, substitute:

Penalty:   1,500 penalty units.

Note: This section does not apply in the circumstances described in section 212. A defendant bears an evidential burden in relation to those circumstances. See subsection 13.3(3) of the Criminal Code.

(12) Schedule 2, item 23, page 8 (lines 3 to 10), omit the item, substitute:

23 Subsection 211D(1) (notes 1 and 2)

   Repeal the notes, substitute:

Penalty:   Imprisonment for 2 years or 3,000 penalty units, or both.

Note: This section does not apply in the circumstances described in section 212. A defendant bears an evidential burden in relation to those circumstances. See subsection 13.3(3) of the Criminal Code.

(13) Schedule 2, item 25, page 8 (lines 13 to 18), omit the item, substitute:

25 Subsection 211E(1) (notes 1 and 2)

   Repeal the notes, substitute:

Penalty:   1,500 penalty units.

Note: This section does not apply in the circumstances described in section 212. A defendant bears an evidential burden in relation to those circumstances. See subsection 13.3(3) of the Criminal Code.

(14) Schedule 2, items 27 to 29, page 8 (line 21) to page 9 (line 19), omit the items, substitute:

29 Subsection 254(1) (notes 1 and 2)

   Repeal the notes, substitute:

Penalty:   Imprisonment for 2 years or 3,000 penalty units, or both.

Note: This section does not apply in the circumstances described in section 255. A defendant bears an evidential burden in relation to those circumstances. See subsection 13.3(3) of the Criminal Code.

(15) Schedule 2, item 31, page 9 (lines 22 to 27), omit the item, substitute:

31 Subsection 254A(1) (notes 1 and 2)

   Repeal the notes, substitute:

Penalty:   1,500 penalty units.

Note: This section does not apply in the circumstances described in section 255. A defendant bears an evidential burden in relation to those circumstances. See subsection 13.3(3) of the Criminal Code.

(16) Schedule 2, item 33, page 10 (lines 1 to 8), omit the item, substitute:

33 Subsection 254B(1) (notes 1 and 2)

   Repeal the notes, substitute:

Penalty:   Imprisonment for 2 years or 3,000 penalty units, or both.

Note: This section does not apply in the circumstances described in section 255. A defendant bears an evidential burden in relation to those circumstances. See subsection 13.3(3) of the Criminal Code.

(17) Schedule 2, item 35, page 10 (lines 11 to 16), omit the item, substitute:

35 Subsection 254C(1) (notes 1 and 2)

   Repeal the notes, substitute:

Penalty:   1,500 penalty units.

Note: This section does not apply in the circumstances described in section 255. A defendant bears an evidential burden in relation to those circumstances. See subsection 13.3(3) of the Criminal Code.

(18) Schedule 2, item 37, page 10 (lines 19 to 26), omit the item, substitute:

37 Subsection 254D(1) (notes 1 and 2)

   Repeal the notes, substitute:

Penalty:   Imprisonment for 2 years or 3,000 penalty units, or both.

Note: This section does not apply in the circumstances described in section 255. A defendant bears an evidential burden in relation to those circumstances. See subsection 13.3(3) of the Criminal Code.

(19) Schedule 2, item 39, page 11 (lines 1 to 6), omit the item, substitute:

39 Subsection 254E(1) (notes 1 and 2)

   Repeal the notes, substitute:

Penalty:   1,500 penalty units.

Note: This section does not apply in the circumstances described in section 255. A defendant bears an evidential burden in relation to those circumstances. See subsection 13.3(3) of the Criminal Code.

(21) Schedule 2, item 45, page 12 (line 13), omit "turtle or dugong", substitute "listed species".

(22) Schedule 2, item 45, page 12 (lines 18 to 22), omit paragraphs 38BA(3A)(c) and (d), substitute:

   (d) the animal is a member of:

      (i) a listed marine species; or

      (ii) a listed migratory species; or

      (iii) a listed threatened ecological community; or

      (iv) a listed threatened species;

(23) Schedule 2, item 46, page 12 (line 30), omit, "(c)".

(24) Schedule 2, item 51, page 13 (lines 19 to 22), omit paragraph 38GA(9)(b), substitute:

   (b) the animal is a member of:

      (i) a listed marine species; or

      (ii) a listed migratory species; or

      (iii) a listed threatened ecological community; or

      (iv) a listed threatened species;

(25) Schedule 2, item 51, page 13 (line 30), before "species", insert "protected".

(26) Schedule 2, item 53, page 14 (lines 12 to 15), omit paragraph 38GB(6)(c), substitute:

   (c) the animal is a member of:

      (i) a listed marine species; or

      (ii) a listed migratory species; or

      (iii) a listed threatened ecological community; or

      (iv) a listed threatened species;