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Monday, 26 November 2012
Page: 13229

Mr EWEN JONES (Herbert) (20:26): I rise to speak on the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Making Marine Parks Accountable) Bill 2012, and I proudly support my good friend and member for Dawson. I would like to take up a couple of points made by the member for Wills. I do not think that anyone could possibly doubt his love for the environment and that sort of thing. Before the Montara spill—before they put that well there—the Australian Institute of Marine Science surveyed that entire place. They put good baseline research into the place. After the spill was cleaned up they went back to see what damage there was. There was none. That is good science. That is knowing what is out there and knowing what is at risk. That is knowing that, if there is damage, what there is to clean up. The green zones established over the reefs in North Queensland and along the coast were based on science. They did not make a lot of people happy, but they were based on good science. They have been proved to be successful. It was a great effort and the environment has no greater friend than Liberal governments. I would say to the member for Wills: 'You can't have it both ways. You can't trot Tim Winton out to say we are fishing out the place and then stand beside the minister who says, "It is so far out, no-one can even get out there".'

It just goes to show how duplicitous and shifty this government is that they will change the argument to suit the audience. That is what bothers me most. The problem with this argument is that when you say to someone in Melbourne that we should protect the sea, all you see is sea; that is the mental image, and there is nothing on top of it. You do not see anything underneath, you do not see the jobs that go with it, because they are all on the land. If you say to people that we have to protect forests, people immediately see roads, trees, chainsaws, trucks, towns. They see all the implications of making those sorts of decisions. That is the problem with this decision.

We held a forum—the first of many, I believe—in relation to this proposal and what has come to pass. I do not mind a bet and at that time I said that I would take any money that the area marked out by the felt pen on the Coral Sea would be exactly where the marine park would go once the consultation period ended. We have seen exactly that happen. We have now seen the Protect the Coral Sea campaign up the ante and call for even more closures closer to Cairns—more closures of reefs and fishing areas to shut down further industry. At that fishing forum there were a number of resolutions passed. First and foremost was the one about recreational fishing as a lifestyle issue for North Queenslanders. It is a right to be protected.

The Coral Sea Marine Park is a long way from Townsville, but this government has shown a willingness to go back on anything it says before an election. At every turn this government does something to suit itself at the expense of the recreational fisher. We campaigned in 2010 to say that a vote for Labor was a vote to close down the Coral Sea, and the Labor candidate at the time said, 'No, it's not,' and poked me in the chest and swore at me on the radio. But it has come to pass that exactly what we said would happen has happened.

Science should be the guide to the establishment of a marine reserve off the north coast of Australia. Any decision to establish a marine park should be overturned by a subsequent government until the scientific case for its establishment can be made. That was the second resolution passed at the fishing forum, and it was passed unanimously by the people who were there because that is what they care about. This government talks about science and various causes, but the Australian Institute of Marine Science has a $120 million boat down at the marina in Townsville with no fuel to run it on and no operational funding—the operational funding has been cut. At the fishing forum we asked that artificial reefs be established in yellow zones where there would be one rod, one angler and one hook. At the fishing forum we even passed a resolution that no anchor could be used and that fishers would just trawl or drift across the place. We asked for a science based review of the green zones to make sure that they were working as well as we suspected. We also wanted to make sure that the Coral Sea is protected. The greatest protector of the Coral Sea and marine parks in general is the weather. If the wind is blowing at between five knots and 10 knots, everyone is going out for a fish. But, if it is blowing stronger than 10 knots, no one goes out. You can go eight, 10 or 12 weeks without a fish up there.

Work needs to be done to change the negative perception of North Queenslanders as recreational fishers. (Time expired)