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Monday, 1 September 2008
Page: 4140


Senator FIELDING (Leader of the Family First Party) (1:22 PM) —I know that recreational fishing has been in the news over the last couple of days, but there have been some real injustices done to some ordinary Australians that should get more coverage in the news. Some ordinary Australians have just put their fishing line inadvertently in the wrong spot and have then been pinged and have now got a criminal conviction. That is certainly one issue. But the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2008 in front of us is also dealing with some complexities and changes in some concepts and definitions to do with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The recreational use of the marine park is a key issue for the community living in northern Queensland and maybe some of the concepts in this bill may roll around into other marine parks, so I think that we do have to be very careful.

There is community concern that this bill might further restrict recreational fishing in the park. Of course we should be protecting such a precious part of our natural heritage as the Great Barrier Reef, but that needs also to be balanced with recreational needs. Family First believes that the concerns that have been raised need to be considered and we need to make sure that these concerns are heard and that the bill does not end up shutting recreational activities completely out of the park. The management of the park has come under question in recent years, and I mentioned before the crazy situation where some recreational fishermen have been given criminal convictions for dropping a fishing line inadvertently in the wrong place.

When we have serious and significant community concerns about the effect of any bill it would make sense to have it referred through to a committee, and that is what Family First sought to do last week. Hopefully, we will have this bill referred to the Senate committee to look at the best way of sorting through the issues and concerns. As Senator Scullion mentioned before on the second reading amendment that was moved and jointly sponsored by Family First, we are hopeful that this Senate chamber agrees that it is wise to refer this bill to a committee hearing. I will make it clear that Family First will not support this bill if there is not a Senate hearing, and that should force the issue, to make sure that ordinary Australians can also have their concerns raised and addressed through a Senate process. I think that that is a good thing to be done.