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Tuesday, 14 May 1985
Page: 1889


Senator BUTTON (Minister for Industry, Technology and Commerce)(3.35) —I move:

That the Bills be now read a second time.

I seek leave to have the second reading speeches incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speeches read as follows-

FISHING LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 1985

The principal purpose of the Bill is to provide clear and legally-based powers for the development and implementation of management plans in accordance with the stated objectives of the Fisheries Act 1952 of ensuring that the living resources of the Australian fishing zone are not endangered by over-exploitation and that there is optimum utilisation of those resources. The Fisheries Act 1952 falls short in many respects of providing the necessary legal powers for implementing fishery-specific management plans utilising modern management concepts and practices. These management plans are required in order to contain increases in fishing effort in Australian proclaimed waters, thus enabling us to avoid depletion of our marine resources and prevent over-capitalisation and persistently depressed earnings in particular fisheries.

Appropriate plans based on administrative arrangements have already been adopted in the rock lobster, northern prawn and southern bluefin tuna fisheries. The major amendment proposed in this Bill will give full legislative backing to those plans and provide the Commonwealth with much greater flexibility in their development and implementation having regard to the requirements of individual fisheries. Management plans will be able to deal with the determination of the manner of measuring the fishing capacity in a fishery, the total fishing capacity for that fishery, the allocation of that fishing capacity among licensed fishermen by way of units and the regulation, recording and evidencing of transactions involving units of fishing capacity. The capacity of a fishery can for example, be measured in terms of outputs such as the allowable catch or inputs such as permitted quantities of fishing gear such as lobster pots or the size and engine power of the fleet in the particular fishery being managed.

Management plans will also provide a basis on which fishermen will be able to plan their business arrangements with greater assurances of continuity over a period of years. At present, fishery licences are re-issued annually. The Bill will provide a basis for longer periods of licence validity and for renewal of licences, overcoming a major difficulty faced by the fishing industry in the existing legislative arrangements.

This Bill will enable the implementation of the major recommendations on fisheries management which were unanimously adopted at the recent Australian Fisheries Conference. I would also like to stress that the development of new management plans by this Government for specific fisheries will continue to be undertaken in close consultation with the State Governments and industry groups involved.

While management plans will be subject to Parliamentary scrutiny and disallowance and will have the force of law, the Bill preserves the established techniques of licensing of master-fishermen and boats and of regulating the operations of the fleet through prohibitions by notice. Examples of prohibitions are closed seasons, legal minimum sizes and fishing gear controls. The Bill thus combines the established practices of, when necessary, regulating individuals in their fishing activities with the flexibility that management plans will provide for regulating the capacity of the fleet as a whole in any particular fishery.

The detailed scheme of the Bill is set out in the Explanatory Memorandum which has been circulated. As well as providing for management plans, the Bill reviews the penalties under both the Fisheries Act 1952 and the Torres Strait Fisheries Act 1984 and brings them into line with current Commonwealth legal policy and contemporary monetary values. It provides for a number of specific amendments of the Torres Strait Fisheries Act to deal with administrative details revealed in the bringing of that Act into operation and a number of miscellaneous amendments of both principal Acts.

This Bill and the accompanying Fisheries Levy Amendment Bill have no direct implications in themselves for revenue or expenditure. The Fisheries Levy Bill will authorise the collection of levies based on units of fishing capacity in specific fisheries on a basis that will be determined for each such fishery. In practice this means that levies will normally be imposed and collected on a pro rata basis according to the number of units of capacity held by individual fishermen rather than on a flat amount per licence.

The Bill is an important step in the development of one of Australia's important food producing and export industries and in the conservation of our marine resources. I commend the Bill to the Senate.

FISHERIES LEVY AMENDMENT BILL 1985

This Bill is associated with the Fishing Legislation Amendment Bill. It amends the Fisheries Licences Levy Act 1984 to incorporate a number of provisions consequential on that Bill.

The Fisheries Levy Amendment Bill 1985 enables levy to be imposed on the allocation, or the renewal of an allocation, of units of fishing capacity in a prescribed class of units, that are not assigned to a boat. Levy can also be imposed on the renewal of a boat licence under the Fisheries Act 1952 in a prescribed class of licences or on the variation of a boat licence under either the Fisheries Act 1952 or the Torres Strait Fisheries Act 1984 in a prescribed class of licences.

This Bill and the accompanying Fishing Legislation Amendment Bill have no direct implications in themselves for revenue or expenditure. I commend the Bill to the Senate.