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Wednesday, 16 August 2017
Page: 5779


Senator LEYONHJELM (New South Wales) (12:02): I rise to oppose the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Amendment Bill 2017. The bill attempts to preserve Commonwealth's Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority by fixing a drafting error that would see the bureaucracy's management plan lapse in 2018. But we should allow such an accident to happen so that we can do away with this Commonwealth bureaucracy.

Henry David Thoreau, a US abolitionist, wrote a famous essay in 1849 called 'Civil Disobedience'. Thoreau states:

That government is best which governs least.

By extension, I can only assume that Thoreau would have thought the government is worst when governing most. I would agree with this. On that basis, this government is very bad. The government is an addict to regulation and an addict to bureaucracy. I am intent on helping the government to put itself in rehab to reduce this addiction, one piece of regulation at a time.

A valuable step in this rehabilitation process relates to the Great Barrier Reef. There is more government regulation around the Great Barrier Reef than any other natural feature in Australia. We all know that the Great Barrier Reef is beautiful. It's known around the world for its biodiversity. It's a tourism mecca and we all value it highly. The Queensland National Trust has named it 'a state Icon of Queensland'. But none of this justifies the Commonwealth government meddling in state business. In case you haven't noticed, the Great Barrier Reef is entirely in Queensland, and yet the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority is a Commonwealth body. This is not a discussion about climate change, but a question of overregulation, unnecessary and avoidable regulation.

I have a better idea—dissolve the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. Give responsibility of the reef to the state in which it is located and reduce the regulation oversight burdens of the federal system. If nothing else, this would help discourage the perception that the Commonwealth government will come stomping in with its giant jackboots at every opportunity. Thoreau would not be impressed with the Australian Commonwealth government's approach to the Great Barrier Reef. Let Queensland do its job. Abolish the Commonwealth Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.