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Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Making Marine Parks Accountable) Bill 2012

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2010-2011-2012

 

 

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

 

 

 

THE SENATE

 

 

 

Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment

(Making Marine Parks Accountable) Bill 2012

 

 

 

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

and

STATEMENT OF COMPATIBILITY WITH HUMAN RIGHTS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Circulated by authority of

Senator The Hon Richard Colbeck



Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment

(Making Marine Parks Accountable) Bill 2012

 

OUTLINE

 

The Government’s current process of declaring Marine Protected Areas is not the result of rigorous scientific analysis that has been made publicly available or extensive industry and community consultation.   



The Government has not engaged in proper consultation - their approach is one of ‘take it or leave it’, with no consideration for Australia’s fishers or the coastal communities that rely on this industry. 

 

The fishing sector is worth billions of dollars to the Australian economy.  The sector employs thousands of people across the whole country.  However, the Government has dismissed the social and economic impacts that their announcement will have on local communities which rely heavily on a vibrant fishing industry.

 

Recreational and commercial fishers across Australia, together with the communities that rely on the fishing industry, will be adversely affected by the Government’s latest announcement regarding proposed Marine Protected Areas. 

 

Furthermore, the Government has failed to understand the importance of recreational fishing to Australians and has failed to consider the important economic contribution recreational fishing makes to coastal communities.

 

Fishing is a recreational pastime enjoyed by 5 million Australians and the industry contributes more than $2.2 billion to the national economy.

 

In Government, the Coalition undertook rigorous assessments that resulted in the establishment of eleven Marine Protected Areas.  These declarations were achieved with broad community and industry support. 

 

The Coalition acknowledges that Australia’s fisheries are amongst the best managed in the world. However, the Government should not take this for granted by attempting to put forward Marine Protected Areas proposals that haven’t been subjected to proper scientific and commercial rigour or that have not been subjected to open and transparent public consultation.

 

The Australian fishing industry is one of the most environmentally responsible fishing industries in the world.  The Government, in attempting to lock out fishers’ access, is damaging the livelihood of thousands of people across the country. 

 

This Bill rectifies the Government shortcomings. 

 

It will require the relevant Minister to commission an independent social and economic impact assessment before any proclamations are made. 

 

The Bill will require the Minister to obtain independent scientific peer-reviewed advice that is made publicly available.

 

It will also require that the government establish an independent scientific reference panel, as well as a stakeholder advisory group, so that decisions are made with rigour following extensive consultation and analysis of the possible scientific, economic and social impacts of any proposed Marine Protected Areas.

 

Finally, the Bill will put the Parliament in charge of final decisions by making declarations disallowable by the Parliament.

 

This Bill returns balance and fairness to marine conservation so that all Australians can have confidence that the best decisions are being made to protect both our marine biodiversity and the fishers and communities that feed so many Australians.

 

FINANCIAL IMPACT

 

The Bill will have no financial impact.

 

NOTES ON CLAUSES

 

SCHEDULE 1 - Amendments

 

Item 1 - Section 343

 

This item obliges the Minister and Director to report on scientific advice, stakeholders’ views and an independent social and economic impact assessment before Proclamations are made.

 

Item 2 - After subsection 344(1)

 

Under this item, any proclamations of a Commonwealth reserve an area of sea, or an area of land and sea will be made a disallowable instrument.

 

Item 3 - At the end of subsection 351(2)

 

Item 3 ensures that the report includes a summary of the outcomes that form part of Subdivision BA, including the Director’s views on these outcomes.

 

Item 4 - At the end of section 351

 

This item requires that any proposed Proclamations are also accompanied by a report which summarizes the outcomes of the independent scientific reference panel; stakeholder advisory group; and, an independent assessment of the social and economic impact of any proposed Proclamations.

 

Item 5 - After Subdivision B of Division 4 of Part 15

 

Item 5 includes a number of amendments.  Firstly, it ensures that prior to the Governor-General making any Proclamations declaring as a Commonwealth reserve an area of sea, or area of land and sea, that the Minister establishes an independent scientific reference panel for each affected region and establishes a stakeholder advisory group for each affected region.  The advice from the relevant groups and panels will be published and made public.  Also requires the Minister to commission an independent assessment of the social and economic impact of any proposed Proclamations. 

 

It also requires the Minister to establish a scientific reference panel that consists of at least five members (and not more than eight members) for each affected region.  Members must possess appropriate scientific qualifications relevant to the panel’s functions.

 

The Minister will be required to publish the report within 21 business days of receiving it from the scientific reference panel.

 

The Minister must also establish a stakeholder advisory group that consists of at least five members (and not more than twelve members) for each affected region. 

 

The Minister will be required to publish the report within 21 business days of receiving it from the stakeholder advisory group.

 

The Minister will also have to ensure that the independent assessment of social and economic impacts of any proposed Proclamations also include detailed costings of the amount required to compensate businesses and individuals affected by any Proclamation.

 

Item 6 - Section 528

 

Item 6 clarifies the definition affected region as outlined by subsection 352A(3).

 

Item 7 - Section 528

 

Item 7 clarifies the outcomes set out under Subdivision BA as outlined by subsection 351(7).

 

Item 8 - Application of amendments

 

This item makes the application of amendments binding on any actions that may have already been taken under section 351 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

 

 



 

 

STATEMENT OF COMPATIBILITY WITH HUMAN RIGHTS

 

Prepared in accordance with Part 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011

 

The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Making Marine Parks Accountable) Bill 2012 deals with amendments to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 relating to the Proclamations over areas of sea (or over both land and sea).

 

This bill is compatible with the human rights and freedoms recognised or declared in the international instruments listed in section 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011

 



Human rights implications

 

This bill does not engage any of the applicable rights or freedoms.

 

Conclusion

 

This bill is compatible with human rights because it does not raise any human rights issues.

 

 

 

 

Senator The Hon Richard Colbeck