Greens spokesperson for Healthy Oceans, Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, provides the following comments on the Greens decision to support a Senate disallowance of the new Commonwealth Marine Reserves Plans of Management.
Senator Whish-Wilson said, “The Greens have consulted widely with stakeholders and the environment movement and will support the disallowance of the Liberals’ woefully inadequate marine reserve protections. Additionally we will work to lobby the cross-bench to support the disallowance to make sure we get the numbers for these inadequate plans to be voted down.
“The environment movement has been faced with a difficult decision, and there are differences of opinion on how best to proceed. Understandably some would prefer weak protections to no protections at all for the foreseeable future, which is the harsh reality we are facing under the Liberals’ disastrous plan.
“The decision before the Senate is whether to accept a woeful plan that has limited protections, or to reject it and continue the already two-decade long campaign for a plan that actually protects marine life. Many stakeholders want to continue to campaign for a better plan.
“Over the last five years Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull have recklessly axed environmental protections and this disallowance vote is the first chance for the federal parliament to formally register its opposition to one of the most retrograde steps by any government anywhere in protecting the marine environment.
“Communities have been campaigning for these reserves for two decades and it is a stunning blow to them, and to us, to see the Liberals put forward plans that offer the barest protections.
“The Greens can’t be part of an attempt to lower what is an acceptable standard of what is called marine conservation. We are deeply concerned that setting the bar so low will lead to state governments reviewing and downgrading their own marine conservation areas, as we saw the NSW Liberal Government do in 2011.
“I have written to Tony Burke offering to work with Labor MPs on achieving a successful disallowance vote and have asked for an assurance that they will seek to improve upon their 2012 marine park zonings if they come into office, and will not seek to provide greater access to oil and gas interests as part of any future review,’ he concluded.