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Tuesday, 26 August 2008
Page: 6233


Ms SAFFIN (5:29 PM) —It was quite a few weeks ago that I was speaking on the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2008. It is a bill of great importance, but in deference to the newly elected member for Gippsland I will make my remarks on the bill very short. I know what it is like to be waiting in the wings to give that first speech.

I will pick up from exactly where I left off in my previous contribution. This bill further establishes the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 as the basis for the environmental impact assessment and approval of actions in the marine park, involving significant environmental impacts. The marine park itself will now become a matter of national environmental significance under the EPBC Act. These changes come with accompanying powers of investigation and collection that allow inspectors to use the investigatory related powers of the EPBC Act. They also allow for the repealing of then relevant and now redundant powers in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act. To complement the powers of investigation and evidence collection, the bill is importing a broader range of enforcement approaches, including new administrative mechanisms, expanded availability of infringement notices and the introduction for the first time of civil penalty provisions.

In conclusion, I would like to recap a bit of what I said at the outset. This bill establishes a modern framework for the administration of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act. It does not duplicate other legislation but puts in place robust and streamlined environmental impact assessment and permit processes. It enhances the capability for investigation and evidence collection; provides a wider range of enforcement options; enhances deterrents and encourages more responsible use of the marine park; establishes new emergency management powers, allowing the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to respond to incidents presenting a serious risk to the marine park; and honours an election commitment to reinstate a requirement for the authority to include an Indigenous member.

At the beginning of my contribution, I said that it is not very often that one gets the opportunity to speak on a matter of such profound importance to the marine life of Queensland and that is also a matter of national importance and of international significance, given its World Heritage status. That is the Great Barrier Reef. I commend the amending bill to the House.