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Wednesday, 17 November 2010
Page: 1474


Senator BOSWELL (2:49 PM) —My question is also addressed to Senator Conroy, in his capacity as the Minister representing the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. Minister, can you assure the Senate that the study conducted by the Ecology Centre of the University of Queensland for the Pew Charitable Trusts that was publicly released last week, which recommended that 50 per cent of the south-west marine bioregion be locked up in sanctuaries, will not be a consideration in the development of the draft marine plan for either the south-west region or any other bioregion?


Senator CONROY (Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Digital Productivity) —I thank Senator Boswell for his ongoing interest in this area. I am not familiar with the detail of that study. As I am sure he is aware, in this chamber I am representing the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. Of course, the Labor Party is very committed to ensuring that fishing gets a fair go in this argument. Obviously that report has been released and it will be considered. The government is aware of the significant debate about protecting the marine environment while maintaining fair access for fishing. The government will consult closely with those people and industries that use the marine environment, including the recreation and commercial fishing sectors, to identify marine protected areas. We will make decisions about marine parks, including multiuse marine parks that include commercial and recreational harvest, according to the best available science and assessment of economic and social consequences.

The government is committed to sustainably managing Australia’s fisheries for the benefit of all Australians and has committed to minimising economic and social impacts and providing assistance to those where impacts cannot be avoided. The government supports the Australian seafood industry in its sustainable management and stewardship of the marine environment—


Senator Boswell interjecting—


Senator CONROY —I am sorry, Senator?


The PRESIDENT —Ignore the interjection, it is disorderly. Just address your comments to the chair, Senator Conroy.


Senator CONROY —Commitment to a national system of marine protected areas was made in Australia’s oceans policy in 1998. The intention was first announced and subsequently reflected in Australia’s agreement to the 2002 convention— (Time expired)


Senator BOSWELL —Senator Conroy, I note you will not rule it out. So my supplementary question is: can the minister assure the house that no Commonwealth funds were used by the Pew Charitable Trusts to fund the study undertaken for the trusts by the Ecology Centre of the University of Queensland?


Senator CONROY (Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Digital Productivity) —That was quite a specific question.


Senator Boyce —Can you start answering it yet?


Senator CONROY —I am happy to take those parts of it on notice—


Senator Ian Macdonald —Get your typist to type it in so you can read it out to us!


Senator CONROY —As I have repeatedly explained to you, Senator Macdonald, this computer is not actually connected to anything. It is simply an electronic folder, in much the same way that Mr Turnbull uses his iPad when he travels around. It is a collection of information.


The PRESIDENT —Senator, ignore the interjection and come back to the question.


Senator CONROY —Thank you, Mr President. I appreciate that Senator Boswell or Senator McGauran might not know what an iPad is, but Mr Turnbull at least on the other side has some understanding of the advantages of having an electronic folder with easy access to material. Let us be clear about this. I will take on notice— (Time expired)


Senator BOSWELL —Mr President, I have a further supplementary question to the minister. You will not rule the study out. You will not tell me whether the Commonwealth put any money into it. How about we have a third-time lucky one. Can the minister inform the Senate if it is still the government’s intention to release the displaced effort policy and the draft marine plan for the south-west this year?


Senator CONROY (Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Digital Productivity) —I want to make sure I am not in a position where I mislead the chamber or Senator Boswell, with his genuine interest in this, so I will take that on notice and come back to you, Senator Boswell.


Senator Boswell —Mr President, that was an absolute waste of time, considering I gave the minister advance—


The PRESIDENT —Senator, that is not a point of order.


Senator Boswell —He has just ignored it.


The PRESIDENT —Senator Boswell, there is no point of order.


Senator Ludwig —Mr President, on a point of order, we have seen this from the opposition, where they jump to their feet. I at least put a point of order and try to reinterpret the question. It is completely inappropriate that this is the case.


Senator Conroy —Mr President, on the point of order: I just want to make it clear that notwithstanding—


The PRESIDENT —Senator Conroy, I have ruled on the point of order that there was no point of order. The time for debating this is at the end of question time.