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Tuesday, 18 September 2012
Page: 11128

Mr PERRETT (Moreton) (16:36): I rise to speak on the Industrial Chemicals (Notification and Assessment) Amendment Bill 2012 and thank the member for Boothby for his contribution. This bill amends the Industrial Chemicals (Notification and Assessment) Act 1989 to deliver greater equality across fees and charges for importers and manufacturers of industrial chemicals. This bill enables more than 2,500 low-value introducers to pay lower fees, bringing relief to small business. Only businesses who import or export certain hazardous chemicals will be charged the small processing fee, rather than it being spread across all registered businesses. The bill also enables the removal of a fee that is no longer operational.

These amendments implement a number of outcomes from the recent review of NICNAS cost recovery arrangements that have been informed by consultation with industry, government, community and stakeholders. In Australia there are a number of chemicals on the market that have not been assessed. Outcomes from the review will enable these chemicals to be assessed more quickly. These amendments align with the government's commitment to reduce the regulatory burden on businesses by ensuring that fees reflect the cost of the service provided and also that we are committed to the removal of redundant fees. So it is some cleaning-up legislation.

Finally, the bill also makes some minor technical amendments in light of new work health and safety laws. For consistency, these changes will be reflected in the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Code Act 1994, which cross-references the ICNA Act. The bill will also improve regulatory consistency while maintaining human health and most importantly—can I say as a Queenslander—protecting environmental safety. We know, Madam Deputy Speaker D'Ath—you being as a proud Queenslander—that it is this side of the House that is committed to protecting the environment. It is sad to say that, as soon as the Liberal and National Party government came to power in Queensland, one of the first things they did was take steps to take away those environmental protections that the Labor government had taken so long to bring about. The Gillard Labor government is committed to preserving the Coral Sea by establishing the world's largest marine reserves. The first thing the Liberal and National Party government did was that the Deputy Premier said he was going to decrease the size of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Contrast those two approaches.

I will touch on the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea, because obviously the impact of chemicals on these reefs is important. That is why it is crucial that we have the appropriate regulators and the appropriate legislation looking after these chemicals. These reserves—the Coral Sea reserves proposed by the Gillard Labor government—take the overall size of the Commonwealth marine reserves network to 3.1 million square kilometres, by far the largest representative network of marine protected areas in the world. So we have a special responsibility as a government to make sure that the chemicals that go into this marine environment are looked after by the appropriate regulations.

The Coral Sea is globally recognised as an extremely important marine region due to its unique biodiversity and also because of its importance in World War II history. Recent international studies have highlighted that the Coral Sea is one of the last remaining areas of the world's oceans where large-scale and biologically rich ecosystems remain relatively in tact. This is something that the people of Moreton care about and that all sensible members of parliament care about. For anyone to question the value of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park would almost be un-Australian, I would suggest. Both these areas are something that I am passionate about even though Moreton is a long way away from both, and I have been on the record numerous times in this chamber and in the other chamber advocating for environmental protection.

Sadly, the Premier of Queensland, Campbell Newman, true to form, is neglecting this important part of our culture and our environment, with 450 staff sacked from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. Who knows what these 450 staff do in terms of front-line protection of these great marine environments and keeping the chemicals away from them? This is in addition to the 220 jobs cut from the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection. I could go on but, sadly, while Premier Campbell Newman continues to slash and burn, it is Labor that is protecting small business and is committed to environmental safety. I commend this legislation to the House.