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Monday, 18 June 2007
Page: 20

Senator ABETZ (Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation) (1:55 PM) —We still have about four minutes left before question time, so I will try and sum up the debate. I thank honourable senators for their contributions in relation to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Amendment Bill 2007. The bill implements changes arising from the government’s response to the 2006 review of the act. The machinery elements of the bill have been adequately canvassed, but I want to engage on a few issues that have been raised during the second reading debate.

Firstly, I understand Senator McLucas made a call for the reef to be gazetted or placed on the National Heritage List.

Senator McLucas interjecting—

Senator ABETZ —She confirms that. I understand that in fact that took effect on 21 May 2007. In relation to the Indigenous issues relating to the reef and the members having expertise, I understand that there continues to be the capacity to appoint members with expertise in Indigenous issues based on the relevant criteria, so that will not be ruled out.

The third matter that I wish to engage in is the proposal that the Labor Party will be putting up for, for want of a better term, a Great Barrier Reef region. I have been provided with a map that it may be helpful to table which shows, on my viewing—I have not done a close calculation—that the region would be about three times the size of the actual Great Barrier Reef Marine Park area. I am also advised that, when you get out to that extent, you get into different marine ecosystems. It would be incumbent upon the Australian Labor Party to tell us what it would mean if that were declared as a region. Undoubtedly it would mean further lockups et cetera.

It will be interesting to hear what the Labor Party have to offer in relation to this debate. We know that, in their rush to get Greens preferences at the next election, they have already done the deal in New South Wales irrespective of any policies. The deal has already been struck. They have to make a few concessions to the Australian Greens in return for those preferences, on which of course Mr Rudd hopes to gain government. I simply say to the Australian people: remember that, if Mr Rudd becomes Prime Minister courtesy of Greens preferences, it will be a Greens controlled Senate that will deliver for Mr Rudd. That will have great consequences for not only the environmental policies but, more importantly, the social policies that this country will face, especially in the very important area of drugs, which is a matter of great concern, especially to those on this side of the chamber. Whilst we say it is important to protect the environment, we say it is even more important to protect our children from the pollution of drugs. That is why we would never do the sort of dirty deals with the Greens that Labor are willing to.

Question negatived.

Original question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.