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Thursday, 16 August 2012
Page: 8997


Mr SNOWDON (LingiariMinister for Veterans' Affairs, Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, Minister for Indigenous Health and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on the Centenary of ANZAC) (11:25): Firstly, I thank those people who contributed to the debate: the member for Flinders, who is leaving the chamber, the member for Paterson, the member for Calare, the member for Lyons and the member for Dawson. I cannot say that I agree with much of what the member for Dawson said; I am not sure if he is actually supporting the legislation or not. Really, the remarks I heard from him did not address any aspect of the legislation. Some people use this place to go on a frolic, and that is what he did.

The Fisheries Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2012 is an important step in improving data collection for fisheries through the introduction of electronic monitoring, e-monitoring, on Commonwealth fishing vessels. Australian fisheries are a valuable natural resource, as you would know, Mr Acting Deputy Speaker, and must be carefully managed to ensure sustainability. After all, the commercial fish catch contributes over $2 billion annually to our economy. E-monitoring is a cost-effective way of collecting high-quality data on fishing and related activities, which was quite effectively summarised by the member for Flinders. It includes the impact of fishing on target and non-target species and on the maritime environment. E-monitoring will also generate data with which to monitor compliance with relevant laws. I am sure that is something upon which we will all agree, even the member for Dawson. E-monitoring will complement other monitoring techniques such as observers and logbook reports. We expect it to reduce the cost to fishers and to the Australian Fisheries Management Authority, AFMA, of monitoring and managing fisheries.

The bill will allow AFMA to fully utilise e-monitoring as a monitoring and data collection tool and includes a number of provisions to make sure that the e-monitoring scheme is effective, transparent and administratively efficient. The bill also makes minor amendments to make the legislation clearer, more consistent and simpler to administer. This includes amendments to state clearly the obligations upon AFMA when making directions to close fisheries. Given the comments of those opposite, I would have thought that would be very important. It will also help to ensure that corporations and other principals can be held responsible for fisheries offences committed by their directors, employees and agents. Again, something I would have thought would be universally applauded across this parliament. Finally, it will allow levies to be waived when statutory fishing rights are surrendered—an issue that I would have thought would have common support. I might say that it was not addressed by the member for Dawson, although it was addressed by the member for Flinders.

The measures introduced in this bill are important steps in bringing modern monitoring technology to Australia's fisheries and in enabling AFMA to implement efficient and cost-effective fisheries management.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.

Ordered that this bill be reported to the House without amendment.