Labor will hand the Coalition a comprehensive election win - on a plate - via a clean sweep of coastal seats if its emerging plan for a vast network of marine reserves around Australia “even vaguely” resembles the recommendations of a new University of Queensland study for the Pew Charitable Trust.
The study calls for 50% of 1.2 million square kilometres of ocean off the south-west Australian coast to be placed in marine sanctuaries - with fishing constraints extending potentially way beyond even that vast area.
This is half the 100% sanctuary status being sought by Pew and the Australian Greens in the 1 million square kilometre Coral Sea.
The study was recently presented to representatives of the federal Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts – and Pew - by The Ecology Centre of the University of Queensland.
Senator Boswell said the Coalition, as well as the recreational and commercial fishing industries, would wage “war” on federal and state Labor governments in every coastal seat around the country if it gave the “slightest credibility” to the Pew funded work.
“Labor knows that the campaign waged against it at the last election by the fishing industry, especially the recreational industry, and the Coalition, was very effective in many coastal seats where there was a sufficiently strong emphasis on it,” Senator Boswell said. “Witness what happened in Queensland, especially. All those players remain on high alert.
“I can personally promise Labor that if there is even the vaguest reflection of the extreme views of Pew, the Greens, and their friends in the environment industry, in the draft plans they will be rolling out over the next year or so, and starting very soon, they will face Armageddon at both the state and federal levels. There is a New South Wales election in March.”
Labor’s first and long delayed draft plan for a network of marine reserves around Australia, out to the 200 nautical mile limit of the exclusive economic zone, is finally due within weeks. The plan will be for the south-west region, stretching 200 nautical miles offshore from South Australia to beyond Perth in Western Australia.
The Pew funded study covers this area, but Senator Boswell said there were already concerns that Pew and extreme green scientists would push for its basic findings to be applied to all marine reserves.
“If the government does not immediately and unambiguously reject this report, planning will start in every coastal town and electorate today for the next round of election campaigns,” Senator Boswell said.
(See map of the Australian coastline showing the limits of the EEZ - and DEWHA planning to date - distributed with this statement.)