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Thursday, 18 November 2004
Page: 80


Senator BOSWELL (Leader of The Nationals in the Senate) (3:19 PM) —I wish to respond to the question asked by Senator Wong of Senator Ian Macdonald regarding a more equitable distribution of the fishing entitlements under the government's Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Representative Areas Program. Senator Wong made some allegations today that I promised a review to the Fishing Party. She is perfectly right. I did offer a review of the Fishing Party, which was exactly the policy of the coalition. This was what was offered to the Fishing Party. I said that we will have a review of the process. The coalition's election policy says:

The Coalition will also review the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority Act to improve the performance of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, its office holders and its accountability frameworks.

That was the review that I offered the Fishing Party. I had a discussion with the Fishing Party. I met Kevin Collins, who was a chairman of the Fishing Party, and we sat down and had a general discussion. He is a person who not only has a great interest in the amateur fishermen but also has a huge involvement in and respect for the environment. We discussed a lot of issues relating to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and he expressed the need for review. I reiterated that the coalition had that policy, so what was offered to the Fishing Party was exactly the coalition policy. There was nothing sinister about it and there were no underhand deals.

We discussed the policy, how it would work and whether some of the smaller bait and tackle shops would be incorporated in the assessment of paying back some offset to the revenue lost. We discussed those issues. But let met say again: there was nothing sinister and nothing underhand, just two parties who had philosophical nearness to each other and who agreed on many issues—and that is the way preferences are normally allocated. You find someone in a political party who is the closest to you and then you go and have a discussion. But at no time were any inducements made. All that was offered was the coalition policy, which I will read again. It says:

The Coalition will also review the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority Act to improve the performance of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, its office holders and its accountability frameworks.

That was the review process. It was a review of the process, not a review of the boundaries.