FEDERAL member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd MP made a speech in the Federation Chamber on November 26 against the Member for Capricornia's PMB.
The press release detailing the speech read as follows:
Mr O'DOWD (Flynn) (11:35): The motion highlights that the federal government is completely out of touch with the Australian fishing industry. They are clearly in no position to be critical of the Queensland state government given the lock-up of vast areas of our fishing based on a whim. More than 100 regional communities and many more businesses throughout Australia rely on the fishing industry for their livelihoods, but, despite this, the proportion of wild catch in Australia represents just 0.002 per cent of production worldwide. We export $1.5 billion and import $2.5 billion worth of product, which makes Australia a net importer of fish product. Australian seafood only makes up 30 per cent of domestic supply. Our fishers operate to world's best practice. Of the 70 per cent of imported product, three countries make up the bulk of that figure: Thailand, 26 per cent; China, 14 per cent; and Vietnam, 12 per cent. In 2009, an estimation of adherence to the UN code of conduct put Australia fourth out of 53 countries. Vietnam was ranked 45th, Thailand was ranked 42nd and China was ranked 22nd.
Like many other industries in this country, Australian fishers operate to world's best practice. Queensland already has a massive area of its waters under protection, which in itself is not a bad thing. However, knowing that we can barely monitor and police the current no-go-zones, locking up more of our waters will only open the back door for illegal operators. We currently cannot control the number of people coming to Australia and we certainly cannot control illegal fishing in our northern waters, and probably other waters around Australia. Northern Australia is virtually: 'Look on-we can't do anything about it because we haven't got the manpower to control the reefs.' There are no species of fish in Queensland waters that are under threat and there was no need to increase the Coral Sea by 2.3 million square kilometres. There was no scientific evidence to support this closure.
A government member: Rubbish!
Mr O'DOWD: That is not rubbish, my friend. Read the facts. The Queensland LNP government have cut off a measly $200,000 from Sunfish, which is an industry based organisation and only has three per cent community membership. The minister has announced that the government will no longer fund bodies such as Sunfish and Suntag. The government was voted in by the Queensland people and they have had to cut costs. The Anna Bligh government ran the state into the ground and there had to be cutbacks somewhere.
Mr Neumann: Sacking people in your electorate-that is a good idea, is it?
Mr O'DOWD: Sacking the government was a good idea, I can tell you that. The people of Queensland have spoken and now Campbell Newman has the mandate to make these changes. In fact, everyone knows he has to in response to the appalling state of the Queensland economy. It is the worst of any state in Australia, including Tasmania. We are badly off. To anyone who lives in Queensland: if you do not know that, you do not know much.
Tony Burke is the single biggest threat to recreational fishers of Queensland. He did not listen to Sunfish or anyone else when he made his decisions on the extended marine park network. The Australian recreational fishing industry is the largest stakeholder affected by this lock-out. These fishers are locked out forever-not for just one day, one month or one year-and there is no compensation as such. There is no compensation for on-land stakeholders either. I am talking about boat shops, tackle shops and the like, and they support the community and our economic base.
Just two weeks ago, Mr Burke locked up another 2.3 million square kilometres to Australian fisheries. This is a disgrace. He we are, an island nation, and we are importing more than we are exporting. That in itself should tell you a story. We do not need any more interference into our fishing. It should be more like New Zealand who have a self-managed industry and it works very well. We should listen to them a little bit more often in this particular case. It simply highlights that the Labor government has no desire to admit that their policies are hurting the Australian fishing industry, which are not based on any scientific evidence whatsoever. (Time expired)