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Thursday, 20 June 2013
Page: 6534

Mr PERRETT (MoretonGovernment Whip) (15:36): I rise to oppose this motion to suspend standing orders. I had wished to talk on the Maritime Engineers Qualification Bill 2013. With respect to the member for Denison and the member for Kennedy, both of whom I have great respect for—

Honourable members interjecting

Mr Perrett: And obviously I am married to a North Queenslander. Most of my spare time is spent up in North Queensland. I have a great attachment to the reef and understand the importance of it, which is why I oppose this suspension of standing orders. If the member for Denison gets his way with this piece of legislation, I believe it would be a complete misunderstanding—by the member for Kennedy in particular—of what takes place in the maritime industry.

It is an old-school approach—the old 'time-served' approach—to the competency-based approach of education. The world has moved on from the old days of being an indentured apprentice or the like. Now, we have the VET system—

The member for Kennedy interjecting—

Mr PERRETT: That is a debate for another day.

The SPEAKER: The member for Moreton will ignore interjections.

Mr PERRETT: It is always so lively with the member for Kennedy here.

The reality is that this piece of legislation would undermine our maritime industry and, as the Speaker of the House said, it would mean that our maritime industry would not meet the international standards. Under Labor, we have done a lot with AMSA to make sure that we have much safer pieces of legislation to ensure that the coral reef is protected.

As the member for interjections would know, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority ensures, under Labor, that it is—

The SPEAKER: The member for Moreton will resume his seat. The member for Dawson on a point of order.

Mr Christensen: The member certainly is not talking about the suspension. He is debating the actual bill and he should talk to the suspension.

The SPEAKER: The member for Dawson will resume his seat. The member for Moreton will refer to the motion before the chair.

Mr PERRETT: As I said in my introductory comments, the reason this suspension should not be supported is that the member for Denison is talking about introducing legislation on which there has not been consultation with the opposition.

As any member representing an electorate abutting the Great Barrier Reef would know, we should be doing all that we can to protect the Great Barrier Reef. I know that the Liberal and National party members from Queensland have a slightly different approach. I remember the day after the state election when the Deputy Premier said, 'We should make the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park smaller.' That was not mentioned before the election, but, the day after, Jeff Seeney said that on the record, and there was not a peep out of those opposite.

I know how important it is that we protect our Great Barrier Reef, and this legislation put forward by the member for Denison makes incorrect assumptions about training. This 'time-served' approach was for a different time—back in the 1200s—and it has served its purpose.

But we are now in the middle of the digital age—the technological age—when information is more than doubling every six months. It took thousands of years for information to double in the world, but now it is doubling every six months or less. So, as technology changes, we need to make sure that our sailors, our merchant seamen and women are competent in what they need to do.

The member for Denison is a proud Tasmanian. I have been to his electorate and I have seen a lot of the memorabilia on the docks of Hobart and it is of a different time. Now there are not a lot of telescopes and sundials; there is a completely different approach to maritime navigation—it is the digital world. The GPS means that we can track vessels completely differently.

So we no longer need to have a 'time-served' approach for the standards of our sailors. It is completely different, and such a proposal would be completely contrary to all modern training practices. That is the reality. If you had a look at a modern ship—I have just been involved with an inquiry that looked at this in the cruising industry—you would see the modern changes. (Time expired)