The Morrison Government’s marine park budget announcement falls grotesquely short of reversing the damage the Liberals and Nationals have done to marine protected areas, after they cut 40 million hectares from Labor’s 2012 plan, leaving Australia’s under threat marine environments exposed.
This announcement doesn’t make up for the Liberals and Nationals cut, slash and mismanage approach to marine protected areas, after they effectively cut protected areas in half during their eight long years in office.
It’s ironic that this announcement was made by Josh Frydenberg, the Environment Minister who just three years ago was personally responsible for cutting Australia’s marine park network in half, and supported the slashing of funding to the Environment Department by 40 per cent.
Labor supports a commitment to begin work on designing a Commonwealth Marine Park for the Indian Ocean Territories, including waters surrounding Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands.
Protecting the health of these rich and biodiverse tropical waters – home to an array of unique marine species – is critically important, and the process must include proper engagement with the local community.
Labor has a proven record of delivering the best marine protection for the environment, which positions Australia to benefit from a stronger oceans economy, including sustainable fisheries, more jobs, and tourism.
Labor’s world-leading 2012 marine protections were the largest in the world at the time, in addition to establishing the current Antarctic support strategy.
Australians won’t forget the Liberals and Nationals record of cutting marine parks, bungling our Threatened Species Strategy, giving $444 million in reef rorts to a tiny, ill-equipped foundation in a dodgy backroom deal without a tender and taking no action on climate change which is already making our ocean hotter and more acidic.