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Monday, 21 June 2010
Page: 3823

Senator FIELDING (Leader of the Family First Party) (8:01 PM) —The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Recreational Fishing for Mako and Porbeagle Sharks) Bill 2010 is a win for common sense. It is an overdue win because this problem should never have arisen in the first place, and when it did arise it should never have taken so long to fix. The government’s reckless and hasty decision to ban recreational angling of mako and porbeagle sharks demonstrates the importance of having a check and balance on the government’s decisions. The government decided to go out and ban fishing of these sharks without doing any of their homework. If they had done their homework and worked with the recreational fishing sector, they would have realised there was absolutely no scientific evidence that this action was needed.

The government did not bother to actually check to see whether these sharks were facing extinction in Australia. If they had, they would have seen that, while under threat in the Northern Hemisphere, the mako and porbeagle sharks are under no such threat here in the Southern Hemisphere. Perhaps it is time to buy the government a globe and teach them the difference between the Northern Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere, because they seem to have muddled that up good and proper on this issue. The government did not bother to consult anyone. They did not bother to ask the experts any questions. They just went out and banned the fishing of these sharks and then said, ‘We’ll deal with these consequences later.’

The recreational fishing sector have a good reputation for acting responsibly and ensuring sustainability is at the forefront. It is unacceptable that they were not consulted on this issue prior to the government imposing a sweeping ban on these sharks. Thank god for people like Daron Proudlock and other members of the Game Fishing Association, as well as organisations such as VRFish, Recfish, TARFish and the Fishing and Boating Council. Without these people and their commitment to getting this ban overturned, this legislation would never have come about.

The Rudd government has taken the sword to the fishing sector on a number of issues since taking office, including over the Coral Sea issue last year. Family First did not support the government on that decision and we did not support the government on its original ban on the taking of mako and porbeagle sharks. Family First have always been a party willing to stand up for fishing folk and will continue to do so when they are getting the rough end of the stick from this government. Family First support this bill and hope we can now let ordinary fishing folk get back to what they enjoy without the threat of government sanctions.