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Monday, 26 November 2012
Page: 13231

Ms PARKE (Fremantle) (20:31): I rise to speak in opposition to this bill, which would put the hugely significant marine conservation outcomes that this government has achieved in partnership and in trust with the Australian community at threat. For anyone to sensibly support the legislative amendments that this bill contains they would need to agree with its underlying premise, which is that the government's secured set of marine reserves has been achieved without the benefit of appropriate scientific data and analysis, without independent economic impact assessments and without the guidance of appropriate stakeholder and community consultation—and that is, frankly, a ludicrous proposition.

In an article published on 27 August this year and titled 'Marine reserves not about closing fisheries, but about preserving ocean health', Dr Nic Bax, Stream Leader, Understanding Ocean Ecosystems at CSIRO, and Dr Ian Cresswell, Director, Wealth from Oceans Flagship at CSIRO, concluded with the following:

The CMR network and marine bioregional planning herald a substantial change in the way Australia manages its marine environment. The potential impacts extend well beyond fishery management.

Importantly the marine bioregional framework provides a clear and consistent framework for Australia that will help make future management decisions and help focus the social, economic and environmental research to support those decisions. It will set clear and measurable objectives within a clear reporting process. This will provide the impetus and direction for science to reduce the uncertainty about whether we are achieving those objectives and the broader goals they serve.

Australia provides world leadership in the policy and science of marine ecosystem management and is likely to be one of the few countries to achieve the international commitment made at Rio+10 in 2002 to develop a representative system of marine reserves by 2012.

Last week the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities sealed one of the greatest environment achievements in Australian history when he proclaimed the network of marine protected areas, including the south-west marine bioregional area. That proclamation, long-sought and hard-won, represents a marine and environmental legacy for future generations unparalleled in our history.

The marine bioregional plan is a reform that has been painstakingly achieved. Like many members of this place, I have personally worked with professional and recreational fishers in my electorate to facilitate their input and to help them seek refinements in the protection scheme to ensure that the marine conservation outcomes achieved were at their highest without having unnecessary impact on fishing and other uses. I have also worked extensively with marine scientists and marine conservation advocates to argue for improvements to early versions of the network, which simply did not provide enough protection in some areas.

In considering the economic impacts, the government's 2011 fisheries adjustment policy very clearly set out the assessments required for the establishment of marine reserves. The policy is wholly consistent with the coalition's 2004 policy. Under the adjustment policy, the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, ABARES, was engaged to prepare independent socioeconomic assessments for each proposed marine reserve. The production of the assessments involved data collection and consultation, including the creation of industry reference groups. All the ABARES reports are, of course, publicly available. The government acknowledges that the creation of the reserves necessary to properly protect Australia's range of unique and precious ecosystems and our marine biodiversity, which has already suffered significant losses, will involve some economic impact and that those affected must receive appropriate assistance.

On a side note: I am pleased to see that the Centre for Policy Development has produced analysis showing that the proposed Commonwealth network of marine reserves will cover an area that delivers $1.2 billion dollars in what is termed 'ecosystem service value' based on estimates derived using a UN environment program study. This value is not currently recognised in our economic models or analysis.

The proclamation of the new marine protected areas by the minister on the Friday before last was welcomed by tens of thousands of Australians, and I received letters or emails from approximately 750 constituents who wanted to support and reinforce the importance of this historic reform. The new marine reserves increase the Commonwealth network of protected areas to 2.3 million square kilometres. In WA these areas include critical feeding and birthing zones for the blue whale. They cover the Perth Canyon and the Abrolhos, the Recherche Archipelago, Geographe Bay and the Naturaliste Plateau. Many of these environmental wonderlands—or 'wonderseas'—have been zones of legend in WA for years, but some of them are even better known and regarded now, especially by young people in my electorate, as a result of the thorough marine protection process that we have been through.

The principles and the framework for protecting Australia's ocean ecosystems through the marine bioregional planning process are robust in themselves. They have been improved since their operation under the former government. They are fit for the purpose of securing the environmental legacy that future generations deserve. As our own experts at the CSIRO note, they are world-leading. The Member for Dawson's proposed changes to the legislative provisions of the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act are unnecessary, unjustified, inconsistent and costly, and they cannot be supported.(Time expired)