Marine Reserves- Green’s dishonesty and misinformation campaign


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Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (17:08): I intend, as often as I can and to the best of my ability, to continue to expose the downright misinformation—and that is putting it politely—of the Greens political party. Regrettably, from a senator I have some regard for, you have just heard that again. As the minister said in his letter, you do not have to get the marine reserves back because they are there and they have not left since the Howard government first instituted them as part of the world's first oceans policy, also introduced by the Howard government. It is never recognised by the Greens political party, but it was the Howard Liberal-National Party government that actually instituted the world's first oceans policy. Part of that was the implementation of marine reserves.

There are not many around Australia—there are about six. They are very big areas. Anyone listening to the previous speaker might think she was talking about the Great Barrier Reef, but that is not so. But that is par for the course with the Greens political party. They would have you believe that. These are reserves further out in Commonwealth waters. There was one in Bass Strait. I happened to be the minister for fisheries when that one in the Bass Strait was implemented. There was an enormously significant and widespread consultation process at the time. We spoke to environmentalists, fishermen, mining interests and everyone. It took a while, but we eventually got a management plan for the Bass Strait reserve that everyone reluctantly agreed with. Everyone was 85 per cent satisfied. No-one was 100 per cent satisfied, but everyone was 85 per cent satisfied. That was consultation.

You do not have to get these reserves back, because they are still there. The coalition government having introduced them, you then had the Labor Party, with Greens support, come in and adopt a process where they only consulted with some of the stakeholders, some of the users—and the 'some of them' were the environmentalists, the conservation groups and not much more. So this became a huge issue in Far North Queensland and up in the gulf country and around the top of Australia, because people who had been stakeholders in these areas for years were simply ignored by the then Labor government, supported by the Greens political party.

I well remember it was a promise of ours at the 2010 and 2013 elections that we would scrap those plans which had not been consulted on and we would consult with everybody to try to get a marine plan that would have 85 per cent support from all stakeholders. That is the process that we are going through, and I think that is the process that Mr Hunt described in his letter of response to this Senate resolution.

In accordance with the Greens' normal approach, they would like to think they are talking about the Barrier Reef green zones. They were another initiative of the Howard Liberal government—not the Labor government, not the Greens government, not the Labor government that the Green supported. The Howard Liberal government put in those green zones and brought in proper plans of management for them. They still exist today, and yet a casual observer listening to the previous speaker would think that what she was describing was happening in the Barrier Reef green zones, which is simply not true.

As I say, as often as I am able to—and I am not always able to, because I do do other things in this chamber—whenever I hear that sort of misinformation coming out from the Greens political party I am going to rush down to the chamber, as I did today, to again give a reality check on what is truthful, what the real facts are and not have the people of Australia confused and believing the sort of, with respect, direct and deliberate misinformation that you continually get from the Greens political party. What you heard from the previous speaker was very tongue in cheek—or speaking with forked tongue—because it was sort of half-right. If you do not know the real facts, as I do, you can get the wrong impression. Those marine reserves, an initiative of the Howard government, continue to operate and will operate better after proper consultation.

Question agreed to.

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