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Monday, 26 November 2012
Page: 13277


Mr EWEN JONES (Herbert) (11:10): I rise to speak on the matter before the house. I am a great supporter of Sunfish. I think they are great organisation. The Deputy Mayor of Townsville, Vern Veitch, is a former North Queensland representative of Sunfish. The member for Capricornia has said that the organisation is going to be decimated and that it is going to go away. It is a membership based organisation and what the Newman government has done is remove funding from a membership based organisation. It is not the death of Sunfish—far from it—and it is not the death of recreational fishing as she would have you believe. As a matter of fact, expenditure on recreational fishing services in 2012-13 will be in excess of $10 million from the Newman state government such as: compliance, surveillance and enforcement, including boat ramp signage and community service announcements, of over $3.2 million; communication and educational programs, including a free handbook for recreational fishers of $500,000; fish-stocking and recovery programs; pet fish education and marine habitat protection of $2 million; research, monitoring and reporting activities of $2.8 million; and scientific assessment and policy development of $2 million. Those are the things that, I think, the member for Capricornia may very well want to look back on.

I will include 100 per cent support for her words towards Tom Burns. Recreational fishing in Queensland has never had a better friend than Tom Burns and it is a legend that is boat was called The Electorate. When people would ring up his office and need to speak to the member they would say, 'I'm sorry, Mr Burns is out in The Electorate', which would be out on the bay having a good fish.

Let us be very realistic about this, only three per cent of recreational fishers are members of Sunfish which is a membership based organisation. Well may the member for Capricornia talk about growing anger in the recreational fishing public. It is not the problems we are having with Sunfish at the moment, it is the problem we are having with this government and the closure of the Coral Sea. I did not hear the member for Capricornia talk about this government's closure of the Coral Sea. I did not hear her talk about the lack of science or the lack of any sort of science based on making the decision to close the Coral Sea. What I hear is the minister for environment Mr Burke say that the science was specifically excluded from the decision to close the Coral Sea.

We campaigned hard in 2010 and said that a vote for Labor was a vote to close down the Coral Sea. I was on a radio fishing show with the then-candidate for the Labor Party at that election. He poked me in the chest and said, over the airwaves, that it was something starting with 'bull' and ending with the letter 'T'. He said it would not happen and that he would cross the floor if it did happen. We said that the problem you have here is that the Labor Party is beholden to the Greens. Whatever the Greens say they will do. So, straight up, they form the government and go straight to closing the Coral Sea. The Pew Foundation was in North Queensland for nearly 2½ days, and this government just jumped on it and closed the Coral Sea, without one ounce of science.

While this has been going on the operational funding for the Australian Institute of Marine Science has been cut. They have a $120 million boat sitting down at the wharf that they cannot afford to operate as they should. I should back up Minister Burke here. The recreational fisher, with the closure of the Coral Sea, is not under such great duress. It is a long way from the base at Townsville, about 300 kilometres. The recreational fishers are asking, 'What's going to happen next?' As with everything else, the government have a flippant disregard for what they said before the election. They said there would be no carbon tax, that they would not touch private health insurance or the Chronic Disease Dental Scheme and that there would be cuts in company tax. They do backflips galore. What the recreational fishers are most worried about is what is going to happen next. Straightaway GetUp has mounted a campaign, the 'Protect our Coral Sea' campaign, urging you to do all you can to protect a special place from future development through a comprehensive and effective management plan—to extend the marine park zone around Shark, Vema and Osprey reefs off Cairns. Within two weeks of the decision coming down, the government are beholden to the Greens and already a campaign to close out recreational fishers is happening. So, if you experience extreme anger from recreational fishers every time you pull up to put a tinnie in the water, it will be because the government cannot be trusted.

We went to the 2010 elections saying that we would stop this, but we have not been able to. We had a recreational fishing forum in Townsville just recently. The forum wanted it recognised that the ability to go out the front and have a fish is part of our lifestyle. The recreational fishers in Townsville want it recognised that they are the environment's friend, not its enemy. There is no-one in North Queensland or Central Queensland going out the front and dropping sticks of gelignite in the water as this government seems to be portraying the recreational fishers doing.

The Howard government established the green zones. There was a lot of disquiet about the establishment of green zones. But the recreational fishers are admitting that the establishment of green zones off the coast of Australia has been a fantastic success. What we need to do now is extend that to establish artificial reefs so that when those fish get hunted off the green zones they have somewhere to go and can get bigger. We need to have an artificial reef in a yellow zone, where you would have no anchor and either trawl or have one fish/one rod and fish those areas there. That is what recreational fishermen want. The recreational fisher wants something positive from this government, and this government is doing everything it can to make it harder for the recreational fisher—because this government is beholden to the Greens. This government is prepared to sacrifice everyone in Queensland so that every Vespa riding, black skivvy wearing, soy latte drinking Greenie in the inner cities of Sydney and Melbourne can sit there and vote for them. They are prepared to kiss it goodbye.

All the way through this, we do support the recreational fisher and we do support the commercial fishing industry. Sunfish, as I said, is a membership based organisation. When left with 20 years of Labor mismanagement, there are some things that are very uncomfortable to do. As I said before, when it comes down to what is actually happening there—and you will see what the Newman government is doing for recreational fishers—it is a very, very good picture. Sunfish is not going to go away. Sunfish is a membership based organisation. As with everything else, it will have its state funding removed and then can go and approach more people. More than three per cent of the recreational fishers are members of Sunfish. Sunfish as an organisation must grow that. All the way through this, you see what the Newman government has done.

Mr Neumann interjecting

Mr EWEN JONES: In excess of $10 million for recreational fishers in 2012-13. The Campbell Newman led government in Queensland is the government that cares about all Queenslanders—not like this federal Labor government, who are prepared to kiss goodbye to everyone in Queensland to try and shore up some seats in inner-city Sydney and Melbourne. That is what the federal Labor government are trying to do. They are doing everything they possibly can to destroy recreational fishing in North Queensland—and they should be stopped. Sunfish is a great organisation and can continue to be a great organisation, but it must develop its ownership base and adjust its focus to continue to be a great organisation. I thank the House.