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Monday, 26 November 2012
Page: 13233


Mr ZAPPIA (Makin) (20:41): I join my colleagues the member for Wills and the member for Fremantle in speaking against this private member's bill. As my colleagues have already pointed out, on 16 November environment minister Tony Burke proclaimed that 2.3 million square kilometres of ocean environment would be permanently protected and that new management plans for those areas will come into effect in July 2014.

The proclamation follows a lengthy public consultation process during which some 80,000 submissions were received. As part of that public consultation process, the public had the opportunity to put forward their views on the marine reserves proposals during 90-day public consultation processes in each region, at the 245 stakeholder meetings held around the country and during the most recent 60-day consultation on the final proposal. To say that this was a decision made by the minister without any consultation and without any consideration for those impacted by it is simply incorrect. The facts speak for themselves. In fact, I know this process has been ongoing for two or three years at least, if not longer, so there has been plenty of time for communities around the country to put their points of view forward to the minister, and in fact those points of view have been heard as part of the final outcome of that consultation process.

I understand that current arrangements for industry and recreational fishers will remain in place until the new management plans take effect, in July 2014. This means that there is still over 18 months to go before the new plans come into effect. Again, that is in order to give communities time to transition. In his speech on 17 September on the second reading the member for Dawson claimed that the minister's declaration was 'not the result of rigorous scientific analysis', that there has not been 'extensive industry or community consultation', that the government has 'not engaged in proper consultation' and that the government has 'no consideration for Australia's fishers or the coastal communities'. Furthermore he stated that the government has 'failed to understand the importance of recreational fishing' and has 'failed to consider the important economic contribution that recreational fishing makes to coastal communities'.

I reject all of those assertions and in fact, as I outlined a moment ago, the extensive consultation process the government has undertaken as part of the announcement made by the minister on 16 November simply dismisses all of those claims. The member for Dawson, through his bill, wants the minister to commission an independent social and economic impact assessment before any proclamations are made. His bill will also require the minister to obtain independent scientific peer reviewed advice. As the member for Fremantle has already pointed out, the current proposals were the subject of a considerable amount of scientific advice.

The member for Dawson's bill will also require:

… that the Government establish an independent scientific reference panel as well as a stakeholder advisory group so that decisions are made with rigour following extensive consultation and analysis of the possible scientific and social impacts of any proposed marine protected areas.

What the member for Dawson is really saying is that he wants to make the process so cumbersome that it will be difficult to implement—if indeed implementation ever occurs. In other words, he does not want anything to happen and he wants to make the process cumbersome to ensure that is exactly the outcome—that nothing will ever happen.

He also implies that the scientific advice provided in the existing process by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and other marine science centres is unreliable and that we cannot rely on it. I reject that assertion. I have spoken to some of the scientists who deal with marine issues for this country and I have nothing but praise for, and confidence in, their work. They were the very people who provided advice to the government in this process and who, at the very least, would have had the opportunity to make their own submissions. To suggest we need to have additional scientific advice is, in my view, suggesting that we should not rely on the scientists who have contributed so far.

There is another element of the member for Dawson's plan which concerns me. It says that the parliament should make the final decision. On the one hand, he is saying that we should have all of these experts—peer reviewed expert advice—on the panels. But, on the other hand, he says that their advice can be ignored. He says that the parliament, a group of nonprofessionals, should make the ultimate decision. Why would we get that advice if it is not needed? (Time expired)