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Tuesday, 11 November 2008
Page: 7

Senator IAN MACDONALD (1:20 PM) —I seek leave to amend my amendment.

Leave granted.

Senator IAN MACDONALD —I move opposition amendment (1) on sheet 5510 revised:

         (1)   Schedule 2, item 1, page 12 (after line 10), after subsection 10(6A), insert:

       (6B)    At least one member must have knowledge of or experience in the tourism industry associated with the Marine Park.

In moving this amendment, can I just say to Senator Siewert: yes, you certainly will upset tourism operators—you are quite correct on that—by suggesting that they are anything but absolutely 100 per cent supportive of the marine park. As I have indicated before, even if they were not that way inclined, their commercial interests would demand that they look after the reef because that is what they actually make their money from.

I have learnt a fair bit about the Barrier Reef over the years, and I cannot think of a tourism industry on the reef that would cause damage to it. The operators take boats out on the reef. They spend their own money, with some government support, on picking up the crown-of-thorns starfish so that in the areas where they take their dive platforms for tourists to go swimming there are pristine reefs. As I said, they spend a lot of money on sending divers down to physically pick up starfish one by one. That is only a drop in the ocean, one might say, but it is certainly something that they do. They are also very particular about any material being thrown overboard from the boats.

I just cannot think of any tourism organisation along the Barrier Reef that would in any way do anything that would damage the reef. They are even very careful about human waste in Barrier Reef waters. They talk about it with their customers. They are very particular. I am desperately trying to think of any industry along the Barrier Reef that could cause damage—even those operating island resorts. Why do you go to a Barrier Reef Island resort? Because it is pristine. The reef is there; there are clean beaches; there is native flora and fauna on the islands. They are particularly involved in that.

Again—if I can convince the Greens, although I am hopeful it will not be necessary—it is the minister’s appointment. At the moment he can appoint anyone. All we are saying is that one of the five has to be someone who has direct and immediate experience on the reef. We are putting that forward because we think it will enhance the ability of the authority to properly manage the reef. So I would again urge support.