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Wednesday, 3 December 2003
Page: 23630

Mr KELVIN THOMSON (3:15 PM) —My question is to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage and it follows his last answer. I refer to his meeting with the member for Dawson and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority on 26 September, at which the member for Dawson lobbied for changes to the Great Barrier Reef draft zoning plan. Can the minister confirm that following this meeting the minister changed the zoning of the ecologically fragile area around Repulse Bay, thus dramatically reducing the proposed level of protection for this designated dugong protected area? Hasn't this politically motivated decision reduced protection of the Great Barrier Reef and increased the risks for the threatened dugong and other reef species?

The SPEAKER —I point out to the member for Wills that while I will allow the question to stand it is dripping with imputations and inferences.

Dr KEMP (Minister for the Environment and Heritage) —This shows you why the opposition have no credibility on the environment: they ask me a question on the reduction of protection to the Great Barrier Reef on the very day I am announcing increased protection for it—an increase from 4.5 per cent of the marine park to 33.3 per cent. More than this, the level of protection in the final draft zoning plan is actually higher than it was in the draft zoning plan circulated in June. There has been no reduction whatever as a result of any decisions or recommendations of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

But the government has made no secret of the fact that we wanted to consult with people. We have consulted with fishers. I have visited Mackay. I have consulted with the fishing industry. I have consulted with the conservationists and environmentalists. I have consulted with the member for Dawson and many other members. Local government officials have put in submissions and state members have put in submissions. At the end of the day, any decisions to put forward recommendations to be tabled in the zoning plan today have been made by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and not by me.

I hope we see a much better performance on the environment from the opposition under the new leader. But I fear that will not be the case because on flipping through Civilising Global Capitalism I found that virtually every topic under the sun had been covered except one: the environment. There was no mention of it.

Mr Howard —Mr Speaker, I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.