House of Assembly - Thursday, 10 February 2011, Page 2479
MARINE PARKS

Mr TRELOAR (Flinders) (15:42): I rise to speak on an issue of great importance to South Australia, which is the government's current marine parks proposal and, specifically, the community anger caused by the ill-conceived sanctuary zones, often referred to as no-take zones. It is no great surprise that this government has continued its announce-and-defend style with respect to marine parks. Genuine community consultation with recreational anglers and proper dialogue with the commercial seafood industry have been handled, in my opinion, very badly by the government. That lack of proper consultation has been caused by a government which has, unfortunately, been distracted and divided by its own political future.

A number of public meetings have been held right across the state and, in my own electorate of Flinders, public meetings were held in Coffin Bay, Tumby Bay and Port Lincoln, with an estimated 700 people attending to voice their serious concerns about the Department of Environment and Natural Resources' current proposals. Other meetings are being planned in the near future.

What we are hearing is that there is a clear disconnect between DENR's proposals for no‑take zones and the impact that it will have on recreational fishers and commercial operators alike. There is also a belief out there in the community about a lack of credible scientific information about marine parks being released into the public domain. The perception that DENR and PIRSA Fisheries are at odds is also a widely held view amongst constituents and stakeholders alike. I note that the environment minister has taken the lead on this issue, and there is certainly a perception that the minister for fisheries is being sidelined.

The mainstream meeting in Adelaide has quite rightly followed the issue in recent months and weeks, and that can only be a good thing because the issue of marine parks deserves prominence and, indeed, the consultation process right through to the implementation and management of marine parks needs to be transparent and it needs to be an accountable process.

The well-respected seafood expert, Michael Angelakis, has weighed into the debate this week. He quite rightly points out that South Australia's fisheries are amongst the best managed in the world and this is an important point. The industry itself has an intimate understanding of fishing stocks and sustainability, and South Australia especially has world's best practice when it comes to balancing the need for protection of habitat with the necessity of fishing the waters of this state. The proof is in the pudding.

This is what has caused the community anger: an arrogant, out-of-touch government telling stakeholders and recreational fishers what is good for them and their concerns are sadly falling on deaf ears. The question has also been raised: what will happen as a result of slashing $3 million over two years from the operating costs of marine parks? That has yet to be answered by the minister. When will the government undertake an economic impact study? It brings me to the point about the economic effects of the current marine parks proposal.

Make no mistake: if the government does not listen and continues its ill-advised approach to marine parks, then the economic effects on this state will be disastrous. We often talk about the multiplier effect of primary industries. It is usual for industries such as fishing to have a six-fold or seven-fold multiplier effect through the broader South Australian economy.

The Port Lincoln Chamber of Commerce and Tourism has recently expressed grave concerns about the impact on businesses in that city and the Eyre Peninsula generally. Possible economic impacts are estimated at $40 million in that city alone if the boundaries were to be followed through with. The federal shadow environment minister, Greg Hunt, was in Port Lincoln last week listening to local recreational and commercial fishers. He made the point in the Lincoln Times:

The government is posing an unnecessary threat by overdrawing of the lines with huge expanses of no take zones.

This backs up the argument of Michael Angelakis and other industry people who have spoken to me about the issue. The government seems to have sought to stifle debate about the conflicting scientific arguments when it comes to fish stocks and the marine environment generally.

These concerns and others are strongly felt in the communities of the Eyre Peninsula, the West Coast and indeed all South Australian coastal communities, and the onus is now on the government to reassure locals that their strong views will be listened to. The Liberal Party sought to have marine parks legislation amended to allow greater parliamentary oversight of the zones and, sadly for coastal communities, this was opposed by the Labor government and the Greens which leaves us no closer to a satisfactory marine parks proposal.

Time expired.