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Wednesday, 15 August 2012
Page: 8812


Mr PERRETT (Moreton) (10:13): I thank the member for Wide Bay for some parts of his contribution, but I certainly would take issue with some of this earlier comments. I do agree that productivity for a trading nation is most important and it is something I particularly worry about. As every economist would say, with productivity flatlining for the last 10 to 12 years—and productivity is a real indication of whether the engine of the nation is humming—we do need to do more. I also acknowledge Deputy Speaker Scott sitting in the chair. It is always good to speak before you and I hope you continue in that seat for a long time.

I rise to support the Maritime Legislation Amendment Bill 2012. This year the federal Labor government has introduced into the parliament a suite of bills that represents the most significant overhaul of Australia's maritime industry since 1912, which I think might be before the member for Longman was born, but I am not sure. This side of the House has introduced the national law bills to establish a single national marine safety regulator in Australia, and the government's Stronger Shipping for a Stronger Economy legislative reforms. From 1 July, we have seen the commencement of this legislation, which is revitalising Australia's shipping industry. Furthermore, since coming to power in 2007, the Labor government has significantly improved the protection of Australia's marine environment.

The bill before the chamber is another substantive legislative instrument that is part of the government's record of ensuring that the laws that protect Australia's precious marine environment are up-to-date and remain in step with international developments. The bill also clarifies the application of federal laws in the parts of the territorial sea that lie between Australian baselines, which are generally at or near the shore, and three nautical miles out to sea from those baselines. For students of politics, a former member for Moreton back in the sixties spent a lot of time talking about this particular topic, but it is only a brief blip in today's legislative agenda.

In addition, the bill will repeal the Stevedoring Levy (Imposition) Act 1998 and the Stevedoring Levy (Collection) Act 1998 which relate to the former stevedoring levy. Payment of this levy in accordance with the two acts ceased in May 2006 and the two acts will no longer have any effect. The main amendments in this bill protect the marine environment and encourage energy efficiency in the shipping industry. The amendments will help achieve cleaner seas and fewer CO2 emissions from ships.

The federal Labor government has increased penalties for the discharge of oil or oil residues by ships in Australian waters from $220,000 to $11 million, banned the carriage or use of heavy grade oils on ships in the Antarctic area, legislated practices for ship-to-ship transfers of oil carried as cargo, and implemented incremental changes to the maximum sulphur level of marine fuel oil. All of these are important environmental advances. Like most Queenslanders, the protection of marine environments and marine life, both now and into the future, is something I am passionate about. In the 2010 election we saw, I would suggest, a misleading fear campaign about people's ability to fish. I have seen comments already indicating, because of the Coral Sea campaign, that there is going to be a campaign around this again at the next election. The reality is that the Labor government is protecting and nurturing fish and therefore protecting the jobs of the fishers but also the ability for recreational fishers to throw a line in.

The Coral Sea is globally recognised as an extremely important marine region, not only because of its unique biodiversity but also because of its important place in World War II history. Recent international studies have highlighted that the Coral Sea is one of the last remaining areas of the world's oceans where large-scale and biologically rich ecosystems remain relatively intact. I have been contacted by numerous groups and many of my constituents urging me to support increased protection for the Coral Sea. In fact, there is a postcard campaign throughout my electorate on this particular topic, so the people of Moreton realise that our precious oceans need to be protected. Preserving the Coral Sea is a rare opportunity for our generation and for this parliament, and this bill is another step to further protect our marine environments. Sadly, as the billions of people in the world have taken over lots of spaces, there are not too many protected and biologically unique places in the world anymore. This bill continues the government's comprehensive marine pollution prevention strategy. I commend the minister for his initiative and the great work that he has been doing in the maritime area generally. That is why I commend the bill to the House.