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Monday, 9 February 2015
Page: 188

Mr HUNT (FlindersMinister for the Environment) (12:11): I am delighted to speak to this motion from the member for Leichardt. The member for Leichardt and I have been on a journey together to protect the dugongs and turtles of the Great Barrier Reef. We have been inspired by the work of people such as Colin Riddell and Rupert Imhoff, and there are many others within the traditional community with whom I have spoken who have taken strong and courageous steps. They have been very impressive. The Turtle and Dugong Task Force, led by Larissa Hale, has been an exemplar in taking steps forward. The Indigenous Advisory Committee, led by Melissa George, has been an exemplar in taking steps forward for protecting dugongs and turtles within the reef area.

Let me begin with a statement of what we are doing on the dugong and turtle front, and then turn to the broader issues with regard to the Great Barrier Reef. In relation to dugongs and turtles: we have a $5 million Dugong and Turtle Protection Plan, something which fills a gap which we inherited. That includes $2 million for an Australian Crime Commission investigation into poaching that is underway. It brings the full force of the law with an investigation at the highest level. Secondly, there is $2 million for specialised Indigenous ranger programs for turtle and dugong protection. This is not just training rangers directly. It is training the trainers as well, so as to expand the number of capable, qualified Indigenous rangers who are committed to action and who are then going to be backed with the support of the law, of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and of the Queensland government in fearlessly seeking out those who misuse the good name of traditional owners. Many traditional owners have come to me and said that they have been horrified that poaching has been done in their name. They are supportive. They are strong. They are clear that this poaching and transportation of meat is completely unacceptable.

We have also provided $300,000 for expanding the role of the Cairns and Fitzroy Turtle Rehabilitation Centre. This money has been provided. And in relation to marine debris clean-up, there is a total of $700,000. We are currently working with the community, but what I want to see most of all is money allocated to ensure that where there are ghost nets and marine debris that there is physical work in the ocean to protect our dugongs and our turtles from these swirling nets of death.

More than that, we have legislation before the Senate to triple the penalties for the taking of dugongs and turtles illegally—for that poaching.

I say thank you to the Greens, who have been supportive of this, and I would urge the ALP not to filibuster but to work with us to ensure that these measures are passed. We have seen them filibuster in the past, which was simply extraordinary. I can only say that that must have been a disconnect between the senior leadership and the Senators on the floor.

I now turn to the reef more broadly. We have done things which no other government has ever done. We have worked with the previous Queensland government—hopefully still current Queensland government, but events on the ground will determine that. They have put forward a proposal for the Abbot Point spoil—which was going into the water under the previous state and federal Labor government—to go on land. We have ended the fact—

Mr Albanese interjecting

Mr HUNT: No, it is a fact. You attended. The member for Grayndler attended Abbot Point and said that it was one of the prime industrial sites in Australia. I have that quote and I am happy to table it.

Mr Albanese interjecting

Mr HUNT: That was your plan, my friend.

Mr Albanese: Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise on a point of order. My point of order is that he should withdraw. I never, ever supported it. He cannot point to any comment supporting dredge spoil—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Broadbent ): Member for Grayndler, I heard you use an unparliamentary phrase that I could ask you to withdraw. Please sit down. There is no point of order. Please resume your seat, Member for Grayndler.

Mr HUNT: Very clearly, we have ended the five projects which we inherited which would have had large-scale dredge disposal in the marine park and we are moving legal force, regulation, to ban dredge disposal in the marine park forever. (Time expired)