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Tuesday, 21 December 1993
Page: 5454

Senator GARETH EVANS (Minister for Foreign Affairs) (5.58 p.m.) —As I said earlier, fishing access rights would include public and private rights of a non-statutory character basically other than commercial type rights that are specifically provided for in a commercial regime. The utility of this provision from the industry viewpoint is, as I said, that it confirms that statutory fishing rights do prevail over any other fishing rights—anything at all, including native title rights—but it is subject to the legislation. So the clause 196A provision we have just been talking about would be a partial exemption to that, but the only one.

  However, that is not the only provision that we put in here in response to worries by the fishing industry about the terms of the original bill. The onshore rights provisions of which there is a whole gaggle of amendments—namely, our amendments to clauses 16, 22, 220, 225 and 238; all of them address this question of the definition of onshore waters—was our response to one of the most vigorously expressed concerns of the Australian fishing industry.

  I remind those opposite again, although it is obviously embarrassing for me to do so, that the failure of those opposite to come across and support us in our amendment No. 74, which was designed to address the question of the definition of fishing rights in the intertidal zone area, is something that does impact adversely on the abalone, pearl and barramundi industries and is a source of real concern to those industries. So we did our best to clarify the status of onshore rights. We have done that.

  We did our best to clarify the status, in particular, of intertidal waters. We have not been able to do that because those opposite did not support our amendment. We are going to try now to add this extra provision that is sought by the industry, and legitimately so, to clarify the priority of statutory rights in this particular industry. It is up to those opposite now as to whether they support us in doing that, but do not indicate that we have been less than sensitive to the concerns of the fishing industry. We have been very sensitive indeed and have tried to respond accordingly.