In Parliament last week I voted with the LNP to scrap the ALP’s massive deep-sea marine parks – but not without noting the LNP’s election-eve hypocrisy, because it was their government which destroyed North Qld’s fishing industry and made recreational anglers criminals by increasing Reef ‘no-fish protected areas’ sixfold.
Since my speech in Parliament, constituents with long memories of major parties’ pandering to rabid greenies have inundated my office with complaints.
They remember in 2003 when then-Federal Environment Minister boasted that the Howard Government gave “probably the largest environmental Christmas present we could give the Australian people (by) lifting the area of high protection zoning from some 4.5 per cent of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park to 33.3 per cent, creating the largest network of protected marine areas in the world”.
Back then, 7000 people turned up to meetings protesting the LNP’s fishing closures, which forced 2000 lost jobs and criminal convictions for rec fishers who accidentally wandered past some arbitrary line at sea.
The tragic irony is that Australia’s oceans represent arguably the world’s greatest and most sustainable food production resource, yet we have the worlds lowest seafood harvest rate and have shamefully gone from being net exporters to net importers of seafood.
Our pioneering prawn industry, once worth $600 million of annual income for our economy, is worth but a tiny fraction of that today and I cannot see the industry lasting much longer.
Yes, it is thanks to major and green party environmentalists that our prawn farmers must clean pond waters three times before returning it to rivers or seas, whilst competitor nations use waters contaminated by raw sewage, meaning their product is pumped with bacteria-killing antibiotics.
So, if it’s fair enough to impose strict conditions on Aussie farmers, shouldn’t we ban imports from countries that don’t measure up to our high environmental and health standards?
We don’t. Instead we import 70 per cent of our seafood – and there’s no labelling to warn Aussie consumers of health risks.
Three weeks ago, KAP introduced laws to Parliament mandating health warning labels on foreign food products.
It will be interesting to see how the votes fall this time.
Hon Bob Katter MP
KAP Federal Leader and Member for Kennedy