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Thursday, 10 May 2007
Page: 31

Mr TURNBULL (Minister for the Environment and Water Resources) (11:08 AM) —The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Amendment Bill 2007 amends the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975. The bill implements changes arising from the government’s response to the 2006 review of the act. The amendments in this bill will strengthen governance arrangements for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and improve transparency and accountability, particularly in relation to the zoning plan process.

The current zoning plan for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park will not be able to be amended for at least seven years from when it came into force on 1 July 2004, providing stability for business, communities and biological systems. There will be a regular and reliable means of assessing the overall condition and longer term outlook for the Great Barrier Reef, through an outlook report that will be tabled in parliament every five years. This report will be independently peer reviewed. The minister will be responsible for any future decision to open the zoning plan for amendment, and any such decision will be based on the outlook report and advice from the authority. Engagement with stakeholders on the development of a zoning plan will be more open and transparent, with an increased time frame for public consultation and comprehensive, publicly available information.

The Great Barrier Reef Consultative Committee will be replaced by a non-statutory advisory board to the minister, which will provide a means of engaging with representational bodies and key experts. The authority will remain a statutory authority and body corporate and become subject to the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997. The number of authority members will be increased to a maximum of five, selected for their relevant expertise.

The amendments contained in this bill set a clear direction for the future management and protection of the Great Barrier Reef, which is one of Australia’s and the world’s most precious assets. The bill provides for continued protection of marine life and biodiversity. It also allows for ongoing and environmentally sustainable economic and recreational activity and engagement with all stakeholders.

The reef is widely regarded as the best-managed coral reef in the world. We recognise, in all of our work with the reef, the likely impacts of climate change and the increased incidence of coral bleaching because of rising sea temperatures. However, the resilience of the reef, the ability of the reef to respond to the impacts of global warming, has been enormously enhanced—as is widely recognised, and as was widely recognised just a moment ago by the member for Scullin—by the actions of the government, by the policies of the government and by the work of the authority. It is the best-managed reef in the world. In that respect, in this particular area, this is another example of the way in which Australia leads the world in the response to climate change. I commend the bill to the House.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Quick)—The original question was that this bill be now read a second time. To this the honourable member for Kingsford Smith has moved as an amendment that all words after ‘That’ be omitted with a view to substituting other words. The question now is that the words proposed to be omitted stand part of the question.

Question agreed to.

Original question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.

Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.