Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

Question without notice - Parliament House

10 September 2012

BOB KATTER (Member for Kennedy): My question is for the Minister for the Environment. Is the Minister of the pain being placed on those who rallied at parliament house this morning over the Governments sterilisation of the Coral Sea and gulf by creating the world's largest marine park in a country that already has the words lowest fish harvest rate. Could the minster revisit these decisions in light of the knowledge that these people stripped of their right to earn a living will lose cars, homes, families and very sadly in some cases their lives. The Liberal National party marine park closures took 2000 jobs from north Queenslanders. Is the minister trying to break their record?

MINISTER FOR ENVIRONMENT TONY BURKE: Thanks very much Deputy Speaker and I want to thank the member for Kennedy for this question. He is the one member of the house who has been consistent in his opposition to marine parks and I hear the scoffing opposition Deputy Speaker, but the point that he makes is true.

The point that he makes when he says the economic impact of the zoning that was done under the Howard Government had a much bigger impact on communities than what is proposed by the commonwealth now is exactly true, is exactly true and he also refers to a protest which was held outside today. If you have a look at the placards that were held today Deputy Speaker, one of the them says "don't lock us out of Hervey Bay".

In fact two of them referred to Hervey Bay. When the areas when out for further assessment first went out some years ago, there was a proposed area off Hervey Bay that went out some distance. If you go to the final maps that have been released by the government you can go as far as you want out east from Hervey Bay there are no restrictions at all, no proposed marine park, nothing.

And this goes to the point of the fear campaigns that have been run opposite. In a similar way with the Coral Sea, those opposite are still circulating maps that has the entire Coral Sea locked up. It is simply not true, that is not the Government's proposal. We then have the claim that there is no science on which these are based and yet we have volume after volume of scientific bioregional planning, some of which has photographs of the Member for Wentworth in it, of the scientific basis for this work.

Now, I respect the Member for Kennedy has a different view on this issue and you can't pretend there is no impact on communities, it is true there is some. But it has been grossly exaggerated. Their reference to Hervey Bay, completely wrong. The references to Cairns, there has been talk in recent days of a $1 billion impact on Cairns that would only be possible if you counted the impact over more than 150 years, to be able to have that sort of impact on Cairns.

Ultimately, on this side of the house, we are each and every time supportive of the concept of National Parks. Whereas those opposite, now with a private members bill, want to abolish them in the ocean, turn the ones in Victoria into farms, turn the ones in New South Wales into rifle ranges and then also we have the reports of logging proposed in National Parks in Queensland.

On this side of the house, on this side of the house, the support for National Parks on land and in the ocean is a simple straight forward environmental step forward which we are happy to back.