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Tuesday, 4 June 2013
Page: 5137

Mr EWEN JONES (Herbert) (19:20): Can I start by saying that I am not a fisherman's bootlace. As a matter of fact, my father-in-law and my brother-in-law are excellent fishermen. They go down the Burdekin River and out from there. They sat me down in the shed at the farm and they said to me, 'Look, we'll give you all the fish you can eat, we'll give you all the crabs and prawns you can eat—just don't come fishing with us.' That is my involvement in fishing. I have been out to the reef once in my entire life. I had an absolute ball and I can understand why people go out there, but it is not for me.

Can I take the minister on a bit of a history trip. In 2010 I was the candidate for the election. The boundaries had been redrawn and Labor was the favourite to win in the electorate. Global warming and climate change were issues. I did not know what the answer was. But being an auctioneer my stock-in-trade is the people I know. I knew the then CEO of the Australian Institute of Marine Science, so I went down and I spoke to him about climate change. He explained to me in layman's terms about what it is and how it works. He convinced me that we should trust the science. So in all my conversations since 2010 with James Cook University, CSIRO, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the Australian Institute of Marine Science I have entered into these conversations by saying: 'We've got to understand the science. If we get good science to start off with, we're okay.'

During that campaign, Senator Ron Boswell, as only 'Bozzie' can, came and was ramping up—'They will close down the Coral Sea!' I was on a fishing show on 4K1G Too Deadly, a syndicated radio station all throughout the cape and around Townsville. It is a community radio station that has a fishing show on Saturday mornings. I was on there with the Fishing Party representative and the then Labor candidate for the seat of Herbert. He was adamant: 'There is no way known that we will close the Coral Sea. It is absolute rubbish that you guys are peddling. It is not going to happen.' He jumped up and down and he swore at me on the radio and said: 'This will not happen. I will cross the floor. We don't do that. That's not the Labor way. What we say before an election counts for what happens after.' That is what he said. We hit the boat ramps and the car parks. We went and saw everyone we could to make sure this message got across.

I got elected; I won the election. I took over from the sitting member, Peter Lindsay. I like a beer in a public bar. One public bar I frequent is in the Commonwealth Hotel. That is also frequented by the fishing fraternity. There are lots of fishing people there. Lots of people off trawlers drink there. I was sitting in the public bar there one day and a bloke came up to me and said: 'You're that bloke who just got elected, aren't you?' I said, 'Yes, I am.' He said: 'For the first time in my life I voted Liberal, I voted for the coalition. Do you know why? Because I don't believe they are not going to close down the Coral Sea.' How right he was.

Pretty soon we started getting emails from the Protect Our Coral Sea people. Once again we are guided by science straight out of James Cook University, Terry Hughes at the ARC down to the Australian Institute of Marine Science. I rang Russell Reichelt: 'Mate, where they're talking about the Coral Sea is not really about GBRMPA from where you are concerned because it is so far off. Don't worry too much about it from GBRMPA's point of view.' I went and spoke to John Gunn, the new CEO. He said, 'The problem we have with the Coral Sea is that there is so little real science done because it is so big.'

In fact, the only real science ever done there was when they used to put scientists on the Japanese fishing fleets that used to go through there, because it is so expensive to get there. From Townsville, from the Australian Institute of Marine Science, it takes about 36 to 48 hours, depending on the weather, to get to the area that has been proclaimed. That is how far away it is from Townsville. They used to put a scientist on a fishing boat to see what was pulled in, make their notes and go on from there. When we phased out the commercial Japanese fishing fleets in the 1980s that stopped and so did the science. Up until then we had no real science.

I keep hearing about the Pew Foundation and them being everywhere. I have checked with all my local science based organisations and they are not being engaged by the government in any way, shape or form on this. They are not being asked and they are not being engaged. The Pew Foundation comes to Townsville and spends a maximum of 48 hours in Townsville. They go to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, walk through the fantastic aquarium that is there, spend a couple of hours at James Cook University—they do not go down to the Australian Institute of Marine Science—and then they are out. Lo and behold, we get the world's biggest marine park. We get the biggest set of marine parks in the world.

The worst part about it is that straightaway the campaign to expand that starts from Protect Our Coral Sea. It has already started to expand. Immediately the minister said we are going to make this decision Protect Our Coral Sea started the campaign to expand it—more into the area of Warren Entsch, the member for Leichhardt. I want to touch briefly on the green and yellow zones. Once again, I am not a fisherman and I did not go to the meetings there. The member for Leichhardt was 100 per cent correct when he said that all the local fishermen were asked to nominate those areas where they went fishing and what we could not possibly lose and then they were made into green and yellow zones. Every fisherman was devastated by that. I have got blokes there now who still will not share a single bit of information with anybody about where they go just in case GBRMPA find out about it.

The one thing you must say, and the one thing I do say to every recreational fisherman, is that they work. The minister is 100 per cent correct when he says that we have got better coral trout. They do migrate. The yellow zones are better. There are things I would like to deal with on that, but that is for another time and not necessarily for tonight. There are things that we could do there. The green zones work.

The difference between what the minister has done here and what the Howard government did then is that Ian Macdonald and Peter Lindsay fronted the entertainment centre in Townsville, which is capable of holding 5,500 people and was pretty full of recreational fishermen who felt devastated. The Labor candidate against me in 2010 was the then Mayor of Townsville and he was front and centre leading the charge as to why this was wrong. That is what happens when you muck around with recreational fishermen. But they fronted, they made the decisions and the science was proven. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority proved that it worked and it has worked.

I say again that from Townsville the Coral Sea, the marine park, is a long way away, but if you ban commercial fishermen from being there the commercial fishermen will have to shift and over time they will put more stress on where the recreational fishermen go. The minister has stood at the dispatch box more than once and said that no-one in a tinny is going out to the Coral Sea, and that is 100 per cent correct. But if the commercial fishers are trawling beside you and netting beside you while you are sitting in your 5½-metre Quintrex that is a very uncomfortable place to be. That is what puts the pressure on the recreational fisher. That is why I say to the minister this motion should be carried—because of what the consequences are going to be and where we are going to go.

It is easy to close the Coral Sea. It is easy for people in the cities to just see the seas rolling and say: 'Yes, you can shut that up. There's nothing out there.' But you do not see what is in Townsville, what is in Mackay and what is on the wharves in Cairns. I hope the minister has been to the Solomon Islands to see the fishing tracking places they have set up there that track all the fishing vessels throughout the Pacific and the amount of fishing being done. They go right up to the boundaries and have tracking beacons on. Who is to say that, because we do not have any commercial fishing out there and do not patrol it, they do not just turn the beacon off, go in there and rape and pillage the place forever?

Even in the parliamentary dining room here the barramundi is from Taiwan. Senator Bill Heffernan asked the chef to bring out the box. He said it was from the southern part of the ocean

The box said 'Taiwan'. I can tell you right now, Minister: if you have ever tasted fresh barramundi you will know that stuff up there is not from North Queensland.

We need to protect our industries. We need to protect our things. So you see out there that there is no alliance and there are no jobs missing, but there are tonnes of good jobs and tonnes of dollars missing from Australia. This gets down to an argument about good government. This gets down to the fact that what you say before an election should mean something to the rest of the world after you are elected. There are two major things that this government said before an election that they would not do and that they have done. One is, 'There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead,' and look where that has got you. The second is, 'We will not shut down the Coral Sea.' That is what this government said, and look what they did. They are going to expand the area and the government simply does not care that the recreational fishing industry and the commercial fishing industry in North Queensland will be the losers. Australia is the loser if that happens.

I say to you, Minister, that you should let this motion pass. We should get rid of it. This is my Mr Smith Goes to Washington moment and, on the strength of my oratory and the passion of my cause, if I could go on all night I would. You must change this, Minister. The minister must allow this motion through, because this is right. This is what you and your government said before the election and if you want to change it you should take it to the people. You should take it to the people at the coming election. What you have done is not right. I thank the House.