The Turnbull government has again damaged Australia’s environmental and economic future by cutting big holes in Labor’s carefully designed network of marine protected areas. This is a direct rebuke to the hundreds of thousands of Australians who engaged in the Save Our Marine Life campaign.
The national marine network established by the Labor government was an historic reform that created world-leading ocean protection. This comprehensive, evidence-based plan followed the science and was designed to deliver both ocean conservation and sustainable economic use of the marine environment. I acknowledge the work of Shadow Minister for the Environment Tony Burke in first delivering and now fighting for this vital environmental framework.
Now after four years of costly delay the Turnbull government has torn-up the protection blueprint for our big blue backyard. This puts our remarkable marine biodiversity at risk. It will harm Australian tourism and weaken the sustainability of Australian fisheries, both of which are critical to the Fremantle and wider Western Australian communities.
It is impossible to understand the decision to remove 50% of the sanctuary zone protection in the Coral Sea.
In the South-West region of the network, the sanctuary protection over the head of the Perth Canyon has been removed even though it is one of the very few known feeding grounds for the Blue Whale.
Sanctuary protections around our coast have been reduced by half to make way for an expansion of harmful long-line fishing and sea-floor trawling. I join with the Save Our Marine Alliance and the Australian Marine Conservation Society in condemning this outcome.
Under the Abbott/Turnbull Coalition, Australia has achieved a terrible pairs of ‘firsts’. In 2013/14 we became the first country to reverse progress in tackling climate change. Now we have become the first country to go backwards in protection for our oceans.
The Coalition has never seen an important big-picture reform that it didn’t want to tear down or undermine. Whether it’s the NBN or needs-based schools funding; whether its climate change action or ocean protection – this wrecking government wants to rip it up and make it weaker. And so our economic, social, and environmental future is being darkened by the day.