Labor has a strong record of protecting Australia’s environment, and that extends to our oceans. The Whitlam Government established the nation’s first marine reserve to protect the Great Barrier Reef.
The last Labor Government established Australia’s Marine Park Network: the largest network of marine protected areas anywhere in the world. Unfortunately, the Liberals set aside the management plans for the Commonwealth Marine Parks so that they could conduct a review - a review Labor had already undertaken.
Federal Labor is committed to the sustainable management of Australia’s marine resources and we are a strong defender and manager of our oceans and those who use them.
The Government currently has in front of it the Independent Commonwealth Marine Reserves Review Report, outlining recommendations regarding the future management of Australia’s marine parks.
There was no need for a review. The only reason the Government undertook this process is because Malcolm Turnbull is following the lead of Tony Abbott in failing to protect our oceans. The review itself found that the proclaimed networks had a sound scientific basis and drew on the best available information.
The Marine Park plan the last Labor Government put in place created the world’s largest network of marine protected areas – over 3 million square kilometres were protected as Commonwealth Marine Parks. The jewel in the crown of this network was the Coral Sea. So it’s particularly concerning to see that the pristine and iconic Coral Sea is now under threat with 100,000 square kilometres set to lose protections.
The Coalition is taking a Marine National Park and turning it into an area that allows longline, purse seine and underwater trawling. A sustainable future for commercial fishing was entrenched in the original plan and there is no need commercially or justification environmentally for commercial practices to be extended in to a Marine National Park. The adjustment to fishing practices was the reason Labor took to the last election a commitment to over $100 million in funding required to implement the marine parks network.
Just like we have seen with climate change, the Turnbull Government is engaging in a fast retreat on marine protection. Treating the Coral Sea like this is like taking a bulldozer through a National Park.
Labor condemns the Liberal Government for cancelling the management plans for the Commonwealth Marine Reserve Network and for failing to protect Australia’s oceans for future generations.