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Wednesday, 20 June 2012
Page: 3908


Senator BOSWELL (Queensland) (15:47): The last division was all about the Labor Party and the Greens joining together to oppose a Senate inquiry that would allow the commercial and amateur fishing industries, the boatbuilding industry and the charter boat industry to come to the table and present their concerns to the parliament. That proposal was rejected. Every associated industry that is affected by these closures wants to have a say. The maps have been laid down and in 60 days the declarations will be made. No-one, whether they be in the commercial fishing industry or the amateur fishing industry or the charter boat industry, knows what is happening. They do not know what adjustment is going to be paid—are they going to be paid for their boats or their licences or their nets or are they just going to receive a proportion of the fish that is caught? No-one knows? No-one knows whether the processing industry is going to be supported. I do not think it will be. Mr Jeffriess from the Commonwealth Fisheries Association comes out and says the government is proposing $100 million. They have to be joking. No-one has a clue about what this government proposes for the 3.1 million square mile closure right around Australia and the 1.3 million square mile Coral Sea closure that adjoins the Great Barrier Reef.

If the Labor Party and the Greens believed they had produced the best marine park around the world and if they had the courage of their convictions they would be proud to have a Senate inquiry. But, no, they are frightened to let anyone have their say. Mr Burke has travelled around and he has provided selective briefings to some of the people but all he has ever said is that when the final maps are done he will tell us what is going to happen. The final maps are done and dusted and still no-one knows what is going to happen. The government is playing with people's lives—fishermen's lives. The maps had not been out two days and the first casualty was the Port Douglas charter company Bianca, which lost $120,000 due to cancellations.

That is just one company—there are 60 boats operating in Cairns; 60 boats that are now frozen out of the Coral Sea, where they have a fantastic catch-and-release industry. They do not take fish; they just catch them and release them. People pay a huge premium to participate in that fishery. They are frozen out and the commercial fishermen are frozen out. Every day we hear that we should not worry about it because the reef is so far out and amateur fishermen will not be affected. I wish someone from the Labor Party or the Greens—although I would not advise that the Greens go up there—would talk to Mr Hansard of the Australian Recreational Fishing Foundation. He is saying that five million recreational anglers will be locked out of vast areas of Australia's oceans and many iconic fishing spots. He has said that Mum, Dad and the kids will be 'banned' from trying to catch a fish. He has asked why the government is doing this—why is it shutting up some fishing industries while bringing in the biggest trawler from Holland to fish in the southern zone?

That is not Ron Boswell or some other senator, such as Ian Macdonald, who is a former fishing minister, saying that; it is the amateur fishermen.

Labor has fallen back on the position it traditionally takes when it gets stuck—when it gets dumped—and is saying, 'It's scary, Henny Penny! The world is going to fall in!' It is not Ron Boswell saying this and it is not Barnaby Joyce; it is the fishing industry. It is the amateur fishing industry who put out that press release. The commercial industry has said, '$100 million? You've got to be joking. What is going to happen to our licences?' Then there is the charter industry—the maps have been down two days and already they are getting cancellations. Why do we need this? Why does a country the size of Australia have to have 70 per cent of the world's national parks? Why do we have to have everyone else's conscience inflicted on us? It is because Pew, the American green group, has come over here and is leading the government by the nose. All Pew has to do is go to the Greens, tell them what it is proposing and the Greens will sell it to the Labor Party, saying, 'This is part of the conditions we have for government. If you want us on board you will put these closures in.' As a result, five million amateur fishermen have been frozen out, as have probably 6,000 or 7,000 professional fishermen, the charter boat industry and the trawlers. Why?

I inform the Senate that the country with the highest ocean catch by kilogram per square kilometre is Bangladesh, with 21,085 kilograms per square kilometre. After that come China, Peru, Korea and Vietnam. Then there is the United States, which takes about 372 kilograms per square kilometre. Mr Deputy President, I know that you are fishermen and that you are interested in this. Do you know that the country with the very lowest catch is Australia, with 28 kilograms per square kilometre? So what do we do? We race in, turn 3.2 million square kilometres right around Australia into marine bioregional parks, all because the Labor Party could not give a damn about blue-collar workers. They could not give a damn about the processers and the people who work in the processing industries in Bundaberg and Cairns. They could not care less, as long as they get the green vote. I can never understand it: if you do the most stupid things you will get the most stupid results. That is what happened in Queensland and it is going to happen federally. Why does the Labor Party keep putting its hand in the fan, lose five fingers and then line up to put the other hand in? (Time expired)