The preference deal between Labor and the Greens for the August 21 election has created a massive new threat to recreational and commercial fishing right around Australia, Senator Ron Boswell has warned.
The Greens want at least 30% of every Commonwealth marine park in the vast network now being planned to be no-take - and they want compulsory complementary zoning of inshore waters by State governments.
If Labor wins the election, and the Greens win the balance of power in the Senate, the Greens will be in a strong position to push for implementation of their policies. Senator Boswell said commercial and recreational fishers were already sceptical of Environment Minister Peter Garrett’s intentions in marine park planning, without adding the wild card of extreme Green policies.
“Peter Garrett has shown in a number of ways that his planning process is massively biased towards green outcomes, and against fishing,” Senator Boswell said.
“When he announced the one million square kilometre Coral Sea Conservation Zone last year he admitted, in answer to a question I put to him, that two green groups were consulted, but no fishermen. His declaration in March this year of the entire zone as an area of great interest in the development of marine parks further convinced fishermen he was pandering to the Greens.
“His consistent failure to reject a consultant’s report that told him most commercial fishermen did not deserve compensation, and could simply go on unemployment benefits, or be re-trained for another job, cemented the suspicions of fishermen that the Minister did not have their interests at heart.
“The announcement in March that no public scrutiny of his proposals for parks and no-take zones along the east coast would occur until after the election meant any remaining trust was gone.
“It’s clear to fishers that Peter Garrett and the Labor Party simply used them as bait to get Green preferences for this election.
“The Minister is the former head of one of Australia’s biggest green groups, the Australian Conservation Foundation, and I don’t think Bob Brown will have to twist his arm very hard to get the anti-fishing outcomes that he wants.”
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has launched the Opposition’s policy on marine parks. The Coalition would suspend Labor’s process and restructure consultation mechanisms to give fishers a fairer go. The full Coalition policy can be viewed or downloaded at www.liberal.org.au or www.nationals.org.au .