LEICHHARDT MP Warren Entsch has spoken up for coastal communities in Parliament, supporting a vote that would have created broader access to the Coral Sea and other marine reserves.
The Coalition’s motions to disallow the Commonwealth Marine Reserve Network Management Plans came up for debate last night, with Mr Entsch seconding the motions for two of the new marine reserves.
“It is a great disappointment that the creation of the Commonwealth Marine Reserves Network is not disallowable, but given that the Management Plans may be, we can certainly make the best of this situation,” Mr Entsch said.
The management plans are the enabling documents that allow certain management, recreational and commercial activities to take place, which would otherwise be restricted under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act. The final vote was 71-70 against the motion.
“This was the last chance for our commercial and game fishers in FNQ to be able to access the Coral Sea.” Mr Entsch said. “What a letdown.”
At the same time, the Liberal MP blasted the “hogwash and lies” contained in a mass email distributed by Labor Senator Jan McLucas late yesterday, which claimed that, “If the Liberals get their way then as of tonight, it will be legal to drill for oil and gas in the Coral Sea”.
“This is just absolute rubbish,” Mr Entsch told the House. “This is the sort of scare tactic these people have continually used to justify their actions.
“We should be using the resources that we are blessed with, going out there and using them sustainably with no restrictions on that access.”
He described fishing as “a highly valued commercial, recreational and tourism staple” for communities right across Northern Australia, and highlighted a number of businesses in Leichhardt whose situations illustrate the “lack of common sense” surrounding the use of our marine resources:
– The Northern Prawn Fishery, which late last year was awarded ‘sustainable certification’ by the prestigious Marine Stewardship Council, yet lost 20 per cent of its area when the Government declared the North and North West Marine Reserves;
– Mitchell’s Marine, operated by Wayne and Sally Bayne since 1981, a highly respected, very successful business which has now closed down because of the uncertainty created by Minister Crean;
– Cairns Custom Craft, which has been building recreational and commercial vessels in Cairns for 25 years but has now also closed down completely;
– Great Barrier Reef Tuna in Cairns, whose owners Bob and Annie Lamason have been “beaten senseless” by years of increasing costs, over-regulation and now the insecurity over their future; and
– Cairns Marine Aquarium, which for three generations has been catching reef fish for aquariums with no sustainability issues. The government is now requiring that license fees of $300,000 now be paid by three operators, instead of 16, a massive financial impact.
“It is little wonder that we have such high unemployment-the highest in the country-in my region,” Mr Entsch said.
“This has been contributed to by the nonsense that the minister has been peddling as he continues to be a slave to cancerous organisations like the Pew Foundation in the United States.
“All of this rubbish goes into metropolitan Australia. They see it on their TVs, on these flash ads that are put up by Pew and others. Not only does the minister believe it-or is silly enough to believe it-but it is also rammed down the throats of people in our metropolitan areas.
“For the rest of us who live out there in regional Australia and try to make a living, using our natural resources, it makes it very difficult.”