Queensland Senator Ron Boswell says coastal communities right round Australia will be hurt financially by the federal government’s soon-to-be-declared marine reserves – but will receive no compensation until some time after the next election.
“This is a cynical ploy. The Labor government can claim credit with its green mates immediately but put off paying compensation,” Senator Boswell said today. “For fishing communities, it will mean pain and suffering right now but no compensation payments until some time later, probably at least 18 months they expect. On current polling, Labor won’t even be in power then.
“On the government’s own estimate, $100 million will be needed just to compensate fishers alone, and they have not even considered the harm that will be done to related businesses also affected by Labor’s planned fishing bans.”
Senator Boswell said it was likely that, in the next month, the federal government will proclaim marine reserves taking the overall size of Commonwealth marine protected areas (MPAs) to 3.1 million square kilometres, by far the largest MPA network in the world.
“Earlier this year, Environment Minister Tony Burke and Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig said an assistance package ‘will begin to flow to the fishing industry before the marine reserves ... are activated’. There was certainly no sign of any allocation for funding for impacted fishers in the October 22 mid-year federal budget update. Nor was it expected.
“The government says it will be at least 18 months after the reserve proclamation before impacted fishers see any money. But, of course, their fishing operations will be devalued immediately. Who is going to invest capital, loan funds or even sign long-term contracts, knowing the axe will inevitably fall?”
Senator Boswell said these marine reserves would be “political parks”, not true conservation areas. Once again, we see dodgy science, sketchy economic and social impact studies, no proper costings, no long-term management arrangements, and, yet again, not enough details worked out before the policy is proclaimed.”