Truss slams marine park consultation

THE proposal to create a national system of marine parks sparked heated debate in both houses of parliament late on Wednesday night.

Environment Minister Tony Burke last week launched the government's ambitious plan to create the marine park system to protect vast swathers of Australia's marine environment.

The proposal sparked matters of public importance last night to debate the merits of the plan, and how it could affect Australia's fishing industry.

Nationals Leader Warren Truss said the industry was renowned for its high quality sustainable fishing practises, but had not been adequately consulted on the proposal.

"The wonders of our oceans and the reefs are truly awe-inspiring and they must always be preserved," he said.

"Our fishing industry understands this only too well and is at the forefront of managing sustainable fisheries.

"Our recreational fishers and our marine tourism industries understand that the value of their entire industry is dependent upon having a sustainable environment, but they have been ignored."

Mr Truss said the government's consultation was a "sham", with government bureaucrats descending on communities to lecture people on what to expect.

"They have not been genuinely engaged in taking on board industry or recreational fishers or community concerns," he said.

"In reality, the government has no appetite to negotiate on the details of its marine parks decree."

But Minister Burke said Coalition attempts to drum up fear among commercial and recreational fishers was unfounded.

"If you are in Airlie Beach, to get to one of the new areas of protection you have to travel for 340km," he said.

"If you are in Bundaberg, you have to travel for 492km before you get to a place where you cannot drop a line.

"We do not need to feel there is some sort of pressure from any other party in this place.

"The Greens, let us not forget, were critical of these proposals when they came out."

Several other MPs and Senators from the government and opposition also spoke on the issue in their respective houses of parliament.

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