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Wednesday, 29 September 2010
Page: 108

Dr MIKE KELLY (Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry) (11:14 AM) —I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The Fisheries Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 2) 2010amends the Fisheries Management Act 1991, the Fisheries Administration Act 1991 and the Fishing Levy Act 1991.

The bill will enhance the ability of the Australian Fisheries Management Authority known as AFMA to implement more effective, efficient and less costly fisheries management in four main ways. Firstly, the bill will facilitate the broadening of co-management arrangements in Commonwealth fisheries. Secondly, it will simplify the regulatory process applying to fishers, and which AFMA must administer and enforce. Thirdly, it will facilitate the restructure of AFMA’s management advisory committees to introduce a more effective dual advisory model.Lastly, the bill will enable AFMA to provide and charge for services provided to other agencies in areas where AFMA has technical expertise.

All of these amendments are expected to result in increased efficiency within AFMA and a reduction in the costs that are passed onto industry.

Co-management arrangements enable AFMA to create partnerships to achieve shared responsibility for the management of the resource within a rigorous framework of accountability and policy. Within a co-management arrangement, responsibilities and obligations for sustainable fisheries management are negotiated, shared and delegated between government, fishers (the primary stakeholders) and interest groups.

The proposed legislative amendments will enable the Chief Executive Officer of AFMA to delegate certain powers and functions to ‘primary stakeholders’ in the performance of co-management arrangements. The functions that the CEO may delegate include determining the total allowable catch and the power to close all or part of a fishery.

The full implementation of co-management will only be accorded to fisheries with strong governance, leadership and demonstrated commitment to sustainability.

Importantly, the ability of AFMA to delegate such powers will not detract from AFMA’s legislative responsibilities. Any exercise of power by a primary stakeholder will be within a framework of rules established by AFMA’s CEO in accordance with the Fisheries Administration Act 1991. The framework of rules will ensure that industry delegates comply with relevant policies and that they are fully accountable to AFMA. The Acts Interpretation Act 1901 also provides further control over the delegation process, such as the ability for the CEO to revoke any delegation issued under an act.

The second set of amendments relates to the simplification of AFMA’s regulatory processes. The complexity of the current regulatory regime has been identified as a significant area of inefficiency and cost for AFMA’s administration of Commonwealth fisheries and for the industry.

This bill will enable AFMA to reduce the complexity of the rules that apply to fisheries, by prescribing standard conditions in the subordinate regulations rather than in individual management plans.

The third area of reform in the bill relates to the restructure of management advisory committees, or MACs as they are commonly known. MACs play a significant role in assisting AFMA in the management of fisheries. They generally include members from industry and other interest groups.

The amendment is required to simplify the process to reduce the number of MACs and to enable the implementation of a dual advisory model; a model that enables a MAC to advise on more than one fishery. This model also separates the provision of advice to AFMA. MACs will continue to provide advice to AFMA on community interest issues but advice on fishing operations will be provided by peak industry bodies.

The restructure has the broad support of industry because rationalised arrangements will improve the effectiveness of advice delivered to AFMA and could ultimately reduce the administrative costs borne by industry.

The last group of amendments contained in this bill will allow AFMA to share its expertise and institutional knowledge with other agencies.

AFMA has some advanced systems and technologies, including satellite vessel monitoring systems and independent fisheries observer programs. There is growing interest from other domestic and overseas fisheries management agencies, looking for the most cost-effective way for governments to provide such services.

AFMA is restricted by the current legislation in its ability to provide these services despite the demand and its capacity to do so. Providing these services to other organisations would increase the economies of scale and lower the costs in developing such technologies.

The measures introduced by this bill are a further step in enabling AFMA to implement more efficient and effective sustainable fisheries management.

I commend the bill to the House.

Debate (on motion by Mr Keenan) adjourned.