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Remarks at the Australian Fishing Trade Association Trade Show 2013: Speech, Broadbeach, Queensland

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Remarks at the Australian Fishing Trade Association Trade Show 2013, Broadbeach, Queensland August 26, 2013


It is great to be here with Senator Richard Colbeck, the Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Fisheries, Senator Ian Macdonald, the Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Northern Australia, Ron Boswell, someone who has been a great friend of commercial and recreational fishing for a long, long time and of course the local members, Steve Ciobo and Karen Andrews who are also great supporters of fishing, both recreational and commercial. I want to first of all thank you for making me so welcome but also apologise for being late. I was thinking to myself this is unconscionable. I consoled myself with the thought that fishermen have to sometimes wait for a bite, sometimes you have to wait for an hour for a bite and I guess a successful fisherman knows when to wait and when to move. Well, thank you for not moving, thank you for waiting for me and my colleagues to be here. Fishing is part of the Australian way of life. There is almost none of us, almost none of us who hasn't dangled a line off a wharf, dangled a line off a tinnie, got an old rod out of the shed and cast out on a beach. Almost all of us at some time in our lives have been fishermen or fisherwomen and for me, as Bruce said, some of my happiest early memories are of fishing on the Gold Coast with my granddad who was quite a keen, not always very successful fisherman, but nevertheless he was a keen fisherman and he liked to share that with his grandson. I cherish those times and I want every Australian, far into the future, to have the opportunity to fish if that's his or her choice.

I don't see people who are in the fishing sector, whether it's recreational fishermen or commercial fishermen, I don't see any of them, any of you as people who want to despoil our environment. I see all of you as people who want to preserve our environment. If you're a commercial fisherman you want the fishery to be there for your children and grandchildren to be able to fish. And our fisheries are amongst the best managed in the world. If you're a recreational fisherman you want to be able to come back next year and the year after and still catch fish. These days all of us are absolutely hyperconscious of the need not to destroy the asset that we are taking advantage of. Not to destroy the environment that we so appreciate.

Unfortunately there has been this attitude in Canberra for too long that people who make a living from nature, people who want to enjoy nature are somehow ruining it. Well that's wrong. The farmers, the fishers, the foresters of our country are our best conservationists because they want future generations to be able to follow their calling. So if there is a change of government in Canberra we will maintain the highest possible environmental standards but that is absolutely consistent with a dynamic commercial fishing sector and a vibrant and growing recreational fishing sector too. One specific commitment I want to give to you is we will suspend the marine protected areas that this Government has recently declared.

We do not want to lock up our oceans. We think our oceans should be there to be enjoyed, to be appreciated, to be utilised by future generations of Australians and that will happen under a Coalition Government. We want the highest possible environmental standards but the last thing we should do is ever declare a marine protected area without the right science, without the right consultation and if it happens without the right compensation and none of that has taken place as part of this Government's processes. We won't make decisions that damage the lives and the livelihoods of Australians without talking to people first and this is the problem that we have seen all too often from the current Government. Not just in this industry but in so many other industries as well, most recently the motor industry with the sudden imposition of a $1.8 billion tax hit on the company car. Just replete with unintended consequences, damaging consequences for an industry that we need.

So, ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much for making me welcome. It is good to be here. As I look out amongst you I see decent, hard-working Australians who deserve a fair go. I see people who want to do the right thing by our environment who deserve by our to be respected and I see people who want their children and grandchildren to be able enjoy the things that they enjoy and that too is a tradition that should be cherished and preserved in years and decades ahead and I will do so.


© Tony Abbott MHR 2010 | Authorised by Tony Abbott MHR, Level 2, 17 Sydney Rd, Manly NSW 2095

Tony Abbott Federal Member for Warringah | Leader of the Opposition

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