LEICHHARDT MP Warren Entsch has described today’s proclamation of a Coral Sea Marine Reserve one of 40 new parks around Australia – as “devastating” for the region, saying it came “off the back of an absolutely flawed consultation process”.
“Coastal communities right around the country are feeling betrayed, there’s no question about it,” Mr Entsch said. “The ‘gan-green’ environmentalists might be jumping up and down but for families in the recreational and commercial fishing sectors, associated marine industries, tourism and coastal communities, there is no cause for celebration.
“It is a tragic day as they see this government write off their investments, skills and life experience for the sake of green votes in metropolitan areas.”
Mr Entsch said the proclamations would create a huge amount of uncertainty for local operators, from Bob Lamason of Great Barrier Reef Tuna to Lyle Squires Jnr at the world-renowned Cairns Marine Aquarium and Daniel McCarthy of Big Fish Down Under.
“The flow-on effect is going to be very significant for these operators we are going to see job losses, the quality of seafood that we can serve in our restaurants is going to diminish, which will then impact on our reputation, and of course all the marine supply stores and affiliated businesses are going to be impacted,” Mr Entsch explained.
“What makes it a farce is that Burke is offering cash to shut down ecologically sustainable and viable businesses. Whatever amount he gives is never going to make up for the loss of these industries, and what is he going to replace them with? We’re already buying more than 70 per cent of our ocean products from overseas and that will increase.
“We promote ourselves with a clean, green sustainable food image at the same time as we’re putting our own fishermen out of work and ripping the guts out of unsustainable third-world fisheries. It’s just unbelievable.”
Mr Entsch said the $100 million compensation package showed that Burke “had no idea” of the impacts, with Bill Cummings’ calculation of $1 billion over 30 years – just for this region – much more likely.
In addition, because the actual management plans will not be finalised until at least the middle of next year and won’t take effect till July 2014, it means the Labor government will not pay one cent of compensation to affected businesses for up to 18 months.
“This is yet another major policy decision that Labor cannot fund and is putting on the credit card.”
Mr Entsch reconfirmed the Coalition’s commitment that if elected, they will review the marine park boundaries, seeking input from the community and making decisions based on scientific research.
“We have proposed legislation to make the creation of marine parks accountable to the Parliament so the process is completely transparent, and a full social and economic impact assessment is conducted,” he said.
“The Coalition has a very strong record in establishing marine parks where the focus is on multiple use zones and sustainable activities.
“We will get our fishermen back fishing.”