Mr. Abbott, you wear speedos, why aren’t you taking our marine life seriously

Tony Abbott recently revealed the Coalition’s plan to support a private member Bill that would halt the development of the current federal marine reserves proposal  claiming inadequate industry consultation.

Should this Bill succeed, it would leave proposed marine reserves in limbo and those areas covered by the proposal, around a third of Australia’s water, open to further development.

It’s a shame Mr. Abbott has taken an environmentalist versus fisherman stance given the creation of a Australian marine reserve isn’t a zero-sum game, the two are complimentary. After all, the creation of marine reserves are intended to ensure marine life is preserved not just for today but for generations to come, something which I’m confident we can all agree is important.

The Coalition, in fact, has a strong legacy on marine protection. The Howard Government was responsible for significant upgrades to protection of the Great Barrier Reef and introduced the first marine reserves in the south-east marine region in 2007. These reserves in the south-east were the first step in the process that is now nearing completion by the Gillard government with marine reserves for the rest of Australian waters. Therefore, it’s disappointing that Mr. Abbott seems to have been taken in by campaigns of misinformation about the proposal.

It’s even more perplexing that Mr. Abbott would stand in the way of the federal marine reserves proposal when it is such a popular initiative with Australians, including his own voters. A recent survey reported 70% of Australians supported the marine reserve plans with only 13% opposed. As we’ve noted previously, this makes it the most popular decision of Julia Gillard’s tenure as Prime Minister. Amongst Coalition voters the figures were positive with 62% approving and 22% disapproving.

Australians similarly have some high profile company from around the world behind the marine reserve proposal with Sir Richard Branson, Ted Turner and Neil Young all publicly stating their support.

While all of us at IFAW are disappointed with Mr. Abbott’s decision, it does help emphasize our recent message; Australians need get behind the marine reserve proposals and show their support if they want them to become a reality.

We recently called upon Australians to support the proposal before the public comment period closes on Monday, 10th September 2012 by using our email template or alternatively, sending your own comments on the proposal to the government at proclamationcomments@environment.gov.au. If you haven’t added your voice in support of Australia’s marine reserves, we hope you’ll choose to do so before it’s too late.

In the interim, we can only hope Mr. Abbott will begin to heed the advice of the scientific community and Australia’s voting public.

-- MC

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