REGULATIONS AND DETERMINATIONS - Marine Parks Network Management Plans - Disallowance


Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (10:18): What utter humbug and hypocrisy is the argument of the Greens, particularly, and the Labor Party on this issue! Let me just explain that to anyone who might be listening. The government is bringing forward some plans for marine protection. The disallowance motion of the Labor Party and the Greens is about stopping those marine protection plans. You've just heard 20 minutes of humbug from a Greens senator about protecting the marine environment, and what they are doing today is stopping protections for our marine parks. You always know when the Greens have run out of arguments, which the previous speaker did after about 30 seconds—they start using the old arguments of vested interests. When they run out of any sensible arguments, it's the vested interests that the Greens, particularly, and the Labor Party always try to bring up on any debate to try and align sensible Australians with coalition policy.

Of course, you know they've run out of arguments when they start talking about donors. The Greens talk about large corporate donors, but of course we remember that the Greens political party was the party that received the largest single donation from any corporate entity anywhere in Australia's political history. That was, of course, when Mr Graeme Wood gave them $1.6 million, the biggest donation to a political party ever. Lo and behold, would you believe, I was in a committee a few weeks later when Mr Bob Brown, then Senator Bob Brown, actually tried to get a taxation committee to give an exemption for the sort of online newspaper that Graeme Wood was hoping to set up. They talk about vested interests and hypocrisy and corruption, but the Greens should look in the mirror when it comes to those sort of things.

Now, back to the issue—

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT ( Senator Marshall ): Senator Macdonald, resume your seat. Senator Whish-Wilson, on a point of order?

Senator Whish-Wilson: Point of order. Senator Macdonald just made a previous reflection on a previous senator in this place, Bob Brown, as being corrupt. He's a total coward to use parliamentary privilege to do so. I ask him to withdraw that comment.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: I don't believe former members of this place are actually covered by the standing order, so I won't rule that way. However, if I'm wrong, someone will tell me shortly and we will revisit it, but I'm pretty sure I'm right there. Senator Macdonald, you have the call.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: Thank you, Mr Acting Deputy President. Dare I say, I believe you're correct. The record will show that I didn't accuse former Senator Bob Brown of being corrupt, but if that's the way that Senator Whish-Wilson thinks he was, then that's a matter for Senator Whish-Wilson, not for me. I said the Greens political party were corrupt. They were corrupt. Did that not happen? Didn't then Senator Brown, a couple of weeks after this donation was received by the Greens political party, move at a Senate economics committee or make advocacy for getting a tax exemption for online newspapers that were about to start up? And wasn't it Mr Graeme Wood thinking about doing that at the time? I'm not going to accuse any individual of being corrupt, but I'm going to say the Greens political party is corrupt, and you tell me where I'm wrong, because I know you cannot. I know you cannot.

We heard from Senator Whish-Wilson arguments about the dire straits of our oceans, but he forgets to mention that the government that introduced marine protected areas anywhere in the world was a Liberal government when then Senator Robert Hill was Minister for the Environment. It was a Liberal government who did those sorts of things. Don't take my word for it. Have a look at this book put out by the sensible conservation group. It's titled, A Big Blue Legacy. The Liberal National tradition of marine conservation. You should read this book—unfortunately I only have one copy—because it goes through in detail all the marine conservation work done by various Liberal governments over the last few decades, starting, of course, with Malcolm Fraser's protection of Fraser Island and the establishment of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, and it goes on. None of the Greens are interested in this book, because it's the conservation groups themselves telling the world the truth about which government it is that has actually done something.

It's okay for the Greens to talk; they know they'll never be in government and never have to deliver. The Labor Party, unfortunately, talk a lot and never deliver either. The only party that has ever delivered on marine conservation is the Liberal-National Party, and we continue to do that in these plans that the Greens and the Labor Party are trying to stop. What sort of logic is that? They want to protect the oceans, and yet here they are today trying to defeat the five plans that will protect the oceans. I know what annoys the Labor Party, because under these plans we're going protect 509 conservation features, including reefs, sea mounts and canyons, and 344 sites have received the highest level of protection compared with those under the Labor plan of 331. The Greens urge the people to vote for the Labor Party so they can be in government—because we know the Greens and the Labor Party are one and the same in any case. But answer this: we're putting aside 344 sites of the highest level of protection; Labor wants 331, which is 13 less, and yet the Greens say the Labor Party's plan is a better one than ours—can you please explain that? We are protecting more sites, but you want to go back to the Labor plan that protects fewer sites. We have green zones that are more than 20 times the size of Kakadu and half the size of New South Wales. We protect sea-floor habitats totalling almost the size of Victoria.

I enter into this debate because I'm a Queensland senator. I'm interested in northern Australia, as you may have heard me say before, and part of my electorate, Northern Queensland, actually contains the Great Barrier Reef, and the communities of hundreds of thousands of people who make their living from the Great Barrier Reef. They are the ones who are demanding that we do what we do.

And can I tell you—and I'll specifically refer to the Coral Sea marine park that the Greens and the Labor Party are today trying to stop—there is a plan in place, and the Greens and the Labor Party are trying to abandon it, to stop it, to abolish it. This marine plan that the coalition has introduced, which the Greens and Labor are trying to stop, enables our recreational fishers—those five million Aussies who enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime wilderness experience in the Coral Sea—to continue doing so whilst protecting the Coral Sea.

We've given these fishers up my way, off Cairns, off Innisfail, off Tully, off Cardwell and, indeed, even off Mooloolaba, the chance to fish at iconic reefs such as Kenn Reef, Bougainville Reef, Marion Reef and Wreck Reef in a very, very sustainable way. These are recreational fishers, not commercial fishermen. These are recreational fishers being given that opportunity for very sustainable recreational fishing. That is what the people of North Queensland, of my state, want to happen. And we're doing that in a way that is sustainable and protects an increasing number of parts of our marine environment.

We want some of our professional fishers, including Walker Seafoods, based at Mooloolaba, to continue to export their Marine-Stewardship-Council-certified tuna to markets around the globe. For those who don't understand, if you get the Marine Stewardship Council's tick of approval—which the Greens used to promote years ago, although I don't know what they're doing these days; they're such hypocrites in the Greens' political party that probably they don't like the Marine Stewardship Council anymore—it's for fishing that is done sustainably. And Walker Seafoods in Mooloolaba have got that sustainable tick of approval for certified tuna, and they export to the world. This plan allows for that. The Greens and the Labor Party want to abolish the plan, so that not only could Walkers but anyone could do anything. It's open slather if this motion passes today because there are no plans, no management arrangements, at all. And, would you believe, that's what the Greens and the Labor Party are trying to get the Senate to do: to have no plans—to have an open slather, so everyone can go out and do whatever they want and catch whatever they want. That's what Senator Whish-Wilson is asking you to do today. How sensible is that? What absolute humbug! What absolute hypocrisy!

( Quorum formed ) You know you've got them on the run when they do those sorts of things, like calling a quorum, to interrupt my speech. Thank you for that, Senator Ketter. That is a real compliment to me. When the arguments start to bite home and the Labor Party and the Greens realise the hypocrisy and utter humbug of the approach they're taking, they then call a quorum so that they shut me up for a minute or two.

What the Labor Party and the Greens are asking you to do today is to remove the current protections of our marine areas. They want it to be open slather. We've just had a Greens senator telling us for 20 minutes that all they were interested in was marine protection, and yet they want to dismiss it. They want to abandon it. They want to abolish it. What absolute and utter humbug and hypocrisy from the Greens political party. Nothing surprises me about hypocrisy and humbug from the Greens, but this one must take the cake. Here we have the biggest amount of marine protection plans anywhere in Australia, ever in Australia. As I recall, under these plans we have the second highest marine protected and conserved areas anywhere in the world, but the Greens and the Labor Party want to stop it. What hypocrisy. What absolute humbug.

I was talking about Walker Seafoods, a great company out of Mooloolaba in my state. They have the Marine Stewardship Council tick for their fishing in the Coral Sea allowed by these plans. The Greens and the Labor Party want to stop that and destroy the jobs and small businesses of tens of thousands of people along the coast of my state of Queensland. They want to deprive the hundreds of thousands of Queenslanders, and other Australians from all over, of the enjoyment of sustainable recreational fishing in the Coral Sea.

We want our northern prawn fishers to continue to supply us with those magnificent banana prawns that you can only get off the coast of Queensland. And yet the Labor Party and the Greens want to stop that. They want us to import vannamei prawns from Vietnam, grown in the—I better not say that, because we like our Vietnamese people. The vannamei prawns from Vietnam, which the Greens and Labor Party would rather us be consuming, are not in the same category—not in the same world—as the wonderful, fresh banana prawns we get out of the Coral Sea in Queensland. It keeps Queenslanders in jobs and it keeps tourists coming to our state, because there aren't many places in the world where you can enjoy fresh fish and fresh prawns straight out of the Coral Sea, farmed and caught in a sustainable way. I know that Senator Ruston, here in the chamber, runs a fisheries regime as fisheries minister which won't even countenance any suggestion of overfishing. The fisheries plans that Senator Ruston oversees and the Australian Fisheries Management Authority carefully limit fishing for our fish stocks to make sure that they are forever sustainable.

Relentless campaigns by Labor and the dark forces who oppose fishing have galvanised and unified—and this is an achievement in itself, I have to say—our professional and recreational fishers. They don't often get on together but they are determined in their support for these plans. I'm not sure I even like to say this, because I've said some nasty things about the Pew regime over the years, but I'm told by Senator Ruston that even the Pew foundation, the great American conservation so-called foundation which originated in oil money out of the Gulf of Mexico—and the Pew foundation, in my view, are always trying to salve their consciences by splashing money around on conservation issues around the world—are in this building this week supporting these plans, and why wouldn't they? If you do what the Labor Party and the Greens want you to do, you'll get rid of every marine conservation plan in Australia and it will be open slather. That's what Senator Whish-Wilson wants. He wants open slather in our marine environment. He just spent 20 minutes telling us how he was so concerned about conservation of our marine areas, and what he is proposing today is that we get rid of all of these plans. What hypocrisy! What utter and absolute humbug! It's the sort of hypocrisy and lies that we've come to expect of the Greens political party, because we know they will simply say and do anything to try and make a point.

This is almost such a simple proposition that it really doesn't warrant much more discussion. You can go with the plans that are already in place, which protect the greatest areas of the Australian marine environment, or you can go with the Greens and the Labor Party and abolish those plans so that there'll be nothing there. It is such a simple proposition that I can't imagine any senator would contemplate joining the Greens and the Labor Party. Those two are only doing it because they hate anything that the coalition government does. They can't stand this booklet that says the only people who have done any work in the marine conservation area are Liberal governments. They hate that. So, for political and ideological reasons, they would have you abandon these plans that are in place and lead you back to open slather with nothing. What hypocrisy!

Back to List