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Tuesday, 4 June 2013
Page: 5140


Mr McCORMACK (Riverina) (19:31): I am very pleased that the minister is at the table to hear my contribution—

Mr Burke interjecting

Mr McCORMACK: And what a contribution it will be, I hear him say. I would like to share with the minister and the House a couple of really interesting quotes:

Australia has a great record for when it comes to the sustainability of our fisheries, and these reports —

and I will refer to the reports in a minute—

are a fantastic information base for governments, researchers, fishers, industry and the community to work from to make sure that remains the case.

The person speaking says:

Fishing is a big part of Australian culture and is an important local industry for many communities around our coastline.

Those words are from the agriculture minister, Senator Joe Ludwig, and these are part of the first international snapshot of fish stocks, which was released on 11 December last year. More than 80 of the country's leading fisheries, researchers from Australian state and territory governments and research agencies collaborated to produce the reports, which assessed 49 species representing more than 80 per cent of the value and 70 per cent of the volume of Australian wildcatch fisheries. I am sure the minister is well aware of the reports to which I am referring. Of the 49 key wildcatch fish species selected, 150 stocks were assessed and 98 were classified as sustainable stocks. Only two stocks were classified as overfished and these have management plans in place for their recovery.

That is the first lot of quotes I would like to share with you. The second is another interesting one which I am sure the minister would also be well aware of:

We are a great food-producing nation and the old phraseology is that we could be the food bowl for Asia. That's an idea that's been around for a long time, but we can make that a reality. There are already seven billion people on earth and another two billion to be added by 2035 … in addition to that big increase in population the rising middle classes of Asia are demanding more high-protein foods. And for Australia that means more beef, more sheep meat and more dairy products.

Those words were uttered on 13 March last year by the trade minister, Craig Emerson.

Tonight, we are talking about a disallowance motion of the six management plans introduced into the House of Representatives and Senate on 12 March this year. The management plans are as follows: Coral Sea, North Commonwealth, North-West Commonwealth, South-east Commonwealth, South-west Commonwealth and Temperate East Commonwealth Marine Reserves. This is the second disallowance motion I have spoken to in recent months. The minister would be well aware of the last disallowance motion I spoke on because that was to disallow the Murray-Darling Basin plan.

Mr Burke: You gave a great speech.

Mr McCORMACK: And it was a good speech. Thank you, Minister, I really appreciate it. I know he is being very genuine. That speech was on the last parliamentary sitting day of last year. Unfortunately, it did not receive the support of the House. Indeed, it was resoundingly defeated, but just by moving that particular motion I know that I got a guarantee from the coalition that we would, in government, cap buybacks to 1,500 gigalitres, which means that only 249 gigalitres remained to be recovered.

I know the minister has been to Griffith on at least three occasions this parliamentary term. I can recall him being there on 22 October 2010, 14 days after the release of initial guide to the Basin Plan; on 29 November 2011; and 15 December 2011, when 14,000 Griffith people turned up to protest against what they feared was going to be an erosion of their water rights. Certainly, this is all relative because we are talking about the erosion of the rights of fishers to fish in Australian waters. That is why this disallowance motion is so important, and that is why we are asking the government to agree with us on this.

We heard the member for Dawson give a very passionate address earlier. He is very concerned as well, not just for his electorate but for the rights of Australian fishers to be able to do what they have been doing for generations. It is an Australian right.

The Australian Marine Alliance highlighted in a 5 July 2012 media release—'United States' tuna purse-seine fleet steals the show in the Pacific as Labor and Greens relinquish support for Australian industry'—the relationship between the Australian Greens, the Gillard government and Australian industry and the fact that it had reached at that time a historic policy low. Goodness knows what that organisation would think now, because it has gotten progressively worse. Anyway, the chief executive of the Australian Marine Alliance, Dean Logan, said that, within days of the announcement to close millions of square kilometres of the ocean in the Coral Sea to Australian fishermen of all persuasions on the basis of protecting the environment, the massive USA tuna purse-seine fleet had agreed to pay Pacific Island countries US$630 million to catch in excess of four times Australia's total fish production in the same region—four times as much!

Mr Christensen: Unbelievable.

Mr McCORMACK: It is unbelievable. They are paying them US$630 million. We are imposing these restrictions on our own fishers, yet here we have a catch that will be four times Australia's total fish production.

The summary of the concerns of the AMA is that the government has not identified a single threat to substantiate large-scale marine closures. Here is an interesting statistic: Australia imports in excess of 70 per cent of its seafood, yet compensation for consumers and how to deal with our food security concerns have not been addressed in any way. We have heard that time and time again. We heard the shadow agriculture minister—more importantly, the shadow minister for food security—talk about the lack of consultation by this particular government on so many matters concerning agriculture. Again, here we have another example of the government's lack of or poor consultation with those affected in the industry. They do not care if people go out of business. That is the crux of the matter. They do not care about the farmers and the fishers of Australia. They just care about the cobbled way this government is held together by the so-called regional Independents and by the Greens.

To those people listening, I would say that the very worst Labor member is better than the best Greens member. I thought the parliamentary secretary at the table, the Parliamentary Secretary for Trade, was going to interject on me. But he is not going to interject, because he knows what I say is true. To anybody listening, I would encourage them to put the Greens last on their ballot paper on 14 September. Put them last because they do nothing but damage our country. They are job destroyers. They hurt our farmers and they hurt our businesses. They have a social agenda which is un-Australian. I know the minister at the table, Minister Burke, and the parliamentary secretary beside him are in full agreement with me because otherwise they would be going to the dispatch box to tell me to get back on track.

This disallowance motion—

Mr Burke: They voted with you on the Murray-Darling.

Mr McCORMACK: That was only because they wanted more water. Yes, that was very interesting of them. If they had their way, things that they call 'diversions' and that we call roads, towns and bridges in the Riverina would be constraints on the Murray-Darling system. I am glad you raised that because, honestly, there are so many people who are worried that their farms are going to be flooded because of these environmental water plans that your government in conjunction with the Greens have put in place. It is just a disgrace. You know it, I know it and the member for Dawson certainly knows it.

We saw this last year in the debate about the supertrawler. We saw that that vessel was encouraged by this government to fish in Australian waters and, because of a social media campaign, the minister at the table acted, and all of a sudden we saw legislation to stop the supertrawler rushed into the House, along with all the other legislation that gets rushed into this House due to some knee-jerk reaction from this government. Honestly, if you want to get policy into this place, start up a Twitter campaign. Get on Twitter and bombard the government, because that is all they react to. It is not good public policy; it is Facebook and social media that are running this government. We saw it with the Four Corners program. Because it was on air on the ABC, all of a sudden the Prime Minister banned the live cattle trade. There was no consultation with industry. They just brought it in and industry is still feeling the full effects of that dreadful legislation.

Mr Kelvin Thomson interjecting

Mr McCORMACK: I hear the parliamentary secretary at the table calling out something. He has been promoted to a role in trade and, unfortunately, he is very against the live cattle trade. I can hear him saying something. Tell that to the Aboriginal stockmen who have been put out of their jobs. Tell that to the trailer manufacturer in my electorate who has had stock crate orders stopped from above. Tell that to the—

Mr Kelvin Thomson: Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The House is debating a disallowance motion concerning marine reserves. The member has spent something like 10 minutes talking about anything other than marine reserves. It might help if he got back to the motion.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Hon. DGH Adams ): Order! The parliamentary secretary does point out a very valid matter. I ask the honourable member for Riverina to come back to the matter before the chair.

Mr McCORMACK: The truth hurts, Mr Deputy Speaker. Australia's fisheries are globally benchmarked and recognised as among the best managed anywhere in the world. Why then do we need to lock Australians out of our oceans? The coalition are committed to returning balance and fairness to marine conservation. This government are not. They are government by social media.

Marine protected areas are meant to protect and maintain biologically and culturally significant marine areas in Commonwealth waters. But they are locking them up to everybody. It is a shame we do not lock up some of our northern waters to the 42,000 boat people who have arrived on our shores. It was the previous coalition government that began the process of establishing marine protected areas around Australia's coastline, in line with Australia's internationally declared commitments. But this move by the government goes a step too far. It is locking up so much more of the ocean. The coalition guided the development of the south-east marine bioregional plan, which was formalised in 2006—and I know that the minister brought this point to question time today. It includes a network of 14 marine reserves, which were agreed after careful consideration and consultation—note that, Minister Burke: careful consideration and consultation, something that the minister's side of politics ought to learn from—with all stakeholders, including the recreational and commercial fishing sectors.

But the Gillard government does not have a track record of effective consultation. We heard the member for Calare say that. This consultation, back in 2006, ensured an appropriate balance was struck between protecting marine biodiversity and minimising the social and economic impact on fishers, businesses and coastal communities and achieving better outcomes. The final result was a larger area protected with less impact on industry.

I know that the minister at the table is extremely keen about regional areas, even though he was the architect of dismantling the single wheat desk, he was the architect of a bad Murray-Darling basin plan and, if this disallowance motion is not passed, he will be the architect of locking up Australia's marine reserves. But I was not aware that Canterbury City Council and the seat of Watson were actually a region. But indeed they are, because in the projects just announced in round 4 of the Regional Development Australia Fund we see that his—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! The honourable member will come back to the matter before the chair and not bring in matters that are not relevant to the disallowance motion.

Mr McCORMACK: Thank you, but RDAF is spending $4 million of—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! The matter before the chair is about this disallowance motion, and I ask the honourable member to come back to that matter.

Mr McCORMACK: Okay. I think this disallowance motion needs to be supported. It is important for the regions—regions which are not included in the seat of Lalor, are not included in the seat of Ballarat and certainly not included in the seat of Watson

Mr Kelvin Thomson: Not included in yours either!

Mr McCORMACK: No, they are not included in mine. But I care about regional people and I care about coastal communities, because I know that my colleague here, the member for Dawson, represents one of them. And I certainly care about the fishers of Australia. I do not like to see $19.845 million in RDAF funding spent on seats such as Watson, on the Prime Minister's seat and certainly on seats such as Ballarat, where the member has only just received a role through the latest round of Labor shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic. Probably Titanic II will also be locked out of the marine coastal areas.