To the rousing applause and cheers of visitors to the Australian Fishing Trade Association’s 2013 Fishing Tackle, Marine and Outdoor Trade Show, Coalition Leader The Hon Tony Abbott said he had heard the pleas of rec fishers and will suspend the Marine Park process and initiate an independent scientific review should the Coalition come to power 7 September.
Flanked by local LNP MP, Steve Ciobo, Senators Richard Colbeck, Abbott’s fishing spokesman, LNP MP, Karen Andrews and Nationals Senator for Queensland, Ron Boswell, Tony Abbott promised a Coalition government would suspend and review Labor’s marine park legislation.
Tony Abbott told the crowd of his cherished memories of fishing on Queensland's Gold Coast with his grandfather when he was a boy and said wants future generations to be able to enjoy the same privilege.
'We do not want to lock up our oceans,' he said, adding that the 'last thing' the Coalition would do is declare a marine protected area without proper consultation.
Tony Abbott with his three sisters on holidays on the Gold Coast
'We won’t make decisions that damage the lives and livelihoods of people without talking to people first,' he said. A Coalition government would 'suspend marine protected areas' for the sake of future generations wanting to cast a line.
In the Convention Centre, walls were covered in posters and stickers with the recently launched slogan, 'I fish, I boat & I vote'.
Describing fishermen and women as decent, hard-working Australian who deserve a fair go – and people who want to do the right thing by the environment, Tony Abbott said a Coalition government would protect the environment, and ensure that commercial and recreational fishing are facilitated.
While the Opposition had previously proposed a review of the marine management plans, it has now formally released its policy.
A statement from Tony Abbott's office said an Abbott government would 'restore confidence' in the Australian fishing industry by returning 'scientific and commercial rigour' to the network's protected areas.
The Rudd and Gillard governments spent years negotiating with stakeholders to create the parks. The Coalition's statement follows a campaign by several commercial and recreational fishing interests which state such parks are likely to damage the industry.
Compensation for affected fishermen are likely to be included in the Coalition's proposed review.