Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

Liberal Party threatens the future of our oceans

Media release
3 June 2013

The Liberals today moved to disallow the management plans for the world's largest network of Marine Parks, putting our precious oceans at risk.

Environment Minister Tony Burke said this would undo decades of conservation work.

"While it's been 20 years since the commencement of the process that created our ocean's national parks, the next 24 hours will determine whether those years meant nothing or whether Australia establishes the world's most comprehensive network of national parks in the ocean," Mr Burke said.

"The jewel in the crown is the Coral Sea which backs on to the Great Barrier Reef to become the largest marine protected area on the planet.

"Under John Howard, the Liberal Party supported protecting the ocean in this way and implemented marine national parks both in the Great Barrier Reef and the south east of our oceans as well as rejecting a super trawler proposal.

"Under Tony Abbott, the Liberals will say no to anything that involves protecting the oceans. They will abolish national parks in the oceans and invite the super trawler back as soon as they can.

"This Government has a proud record of protecting the oceans. Two futures are now on offer. Tony Abbott's plan plunders the oceans, ours' protects them."

The new Commonwealth marine reserves were only established after an unprecedented consultation process.

There have been five rounds of consultation on marine reserves over the past four year, including more than 250 public and stakeholder meetings around the country, attended by about 2,000 people.

More than 750,000 people participated in the public consultation process and provided feedback.

The Government has used the best available science, talked to the public over a number of years, made and revised plans based on community consultation and delivered the world's most comprehensive marine reserve network - with only around a one per cent impact on commercial fisheries.

The places where a majority of families love to fish won't be impacted at all by these new marine parks - fishing from beaches, lagoons and jetties is unchanged.

The vast majority of the new Commonwealth marine reserves remain open to recreational fishers. In fact 96 per cent of the Commonwealth waters within 100 kilometres of the coast are still open to rec fishers.