Posted on 24 June 2011 by Cate
CATE FAEHRMANN [10.34 a.m.]: I am struggling to fit my papers on the table because I have a lot of information about the science that supports sanctuary zones. I speak today quite unexpectedly—as I am sure will all members other than those on the other side of the House—on the Marine Parks Amendment (Moratorium) Bill 2011 introduced by the Hon. Robert Brown. All week we have been told in government meetings and briefings that we would be debating the firearms legislation today. So it is a surprise to us, and I believe it is very unethical parliamentary behaviour, to be landed with this bill without any notice whatsoever. Clearly it is an indication of what is to come. I note that the Hon. Scot MacDonald nods his head in agreement.
I have only 20 minutes to speak on this bill, and that is a pity given how much there is to say about what it represents. I begin by detailing what the Government has already done in its few months in office. Within its first 100 days the Government launched a big attack on marine science in New South Wales. The Government revoked fishing closures and recent zoning plans, and in so doing damaged the reputation of marine science in New South Wales and discredited the fine work of many marine scientists in this State. Fish Rock and Green Island were closed recently. The Government revoked the fishing closures that were put in place after many years of requests from conservationists, marine scientists and government reports to close these areas to fishing in order to protect the critically endangered grey nurse shark and black cod, which is now found around Fish Rock.
The Government, particularly the Hon. Duncan Gay, is well aware just how endangered the grey nurse shark is. Even if the grey nurse shark population numbers 1,500—which is what the Government discussion paper claims—anything below 5,000 for a species is way below its replacement rate. Grey nurse sharks will become extinct if we do not get their numbers above 5,000. Every single death of a grey nurse shark is very significant. I continually receive emails about how the grey nurse shark is critically endangered both federally and at State level and stating that sharks are often seen with hooks embedded in their mouths and in their bodies. According to the information that the Government has before it, there is evidence to suggest that when grey nurse sharks have hooks embedded in their mouths or their stomachs they die a slow death from starvation. Divers at South West Rocks tell me it is some time since they have seen a grey nurse shark without a hook embedded in it.
The Hon. Robert Borsak: Rubbish.
The Hon. CATE FAEHRMANN: It is not rubbish; it is what the divers—
The Hon. Trevor Khan: I dive there, Cate.
The Hon. CATE FAEHRMANN: I would like to see from the Hon. Trevor Khan a photograph of grey nurse sharks in the area. The Government also recently revoked the very recent gains—although minor—achieved by the conservation movement, which was not satisfied with the zoning changes for the Solitary Islands Marine Park and Jervis Bay Marine Park. However, we recognised that it was a compromise and that it followed years of consultation. In my previous role as Executive Director of the Nature Conservation Council I attended a consultation meeting on the Solitary Islands Marine Park in about 2009. The Solitary Islands Marine Park officers and the secretariat undertook extensive consultation about both those marine parks.
There were 285 community information days dealing with Solitary Islands Marine Park and the “Jervis Bay Marine Park—Zoning Plan Review”.
Meetings were also held with the Huskisson Chamber of Commerce, the Jervis Bay Tourism Association, commercial fishers at Greenwell Point, Huskisson and Lake Illawarra, Nowra Local Aboriginal Land Council, recreational fishers in Callala Bay, Huskisson and Nowra, and spearfishers, free divers, sailors and scuba divers. As the Hon. Luke Foley said, thousands of submissions were received. Of course, the recreational fishers, commercial fishers and conservationists were also consulted. It was an extensive consultation process. The Government’s proposed amendment provides that the moratorium be in place until the independent audit has been completed and a decision has been made. Goodness knows how long that will take. It would appear from the Government’s attitude to the independent audit that it believes the scientific research undertaken on marine parks to date is not sufficient.
The Hon. Robert Brown: The Government’s own independent review said as much.
The Hon. CATE FAEHRMANN: Which independent review?
The Hon. Robert Brown: The old Government; the Labor Government.
The Hon. CATE FAEHRMANN: For more than a decade marine scientists from across the world have been meeting and talking about the decline in the state of our oceans, the collapse of our fish stocks and the need to protect some ocean areas so that fish can breed and stocks can recover. It goes without saying that protecting some areas of our oceans from fishing is a good thing. Most of the young children in the public gallery would recognise that doing so will allow fish stocks in those areas to regenerate.
The Hon. Dr Peter Phelps: Point of order: I point out that the honourable member is addressing the gallery, which is disorderly.
DEPUTY-PRESIDENT (The Hon. Natasha Maclaren-Jones): Order! People in the public gallery will not interrupt the proceedings of the House
The Hon. CATE FAEHRMANN: I apologise. I am aware that I am not supposed to engage with people in the public gallery. The Hon. Robert Brown chaired and my colleague Ian Cohen was a member of the committee that inquired into recreational fishing. A document tabled by Professor Booth during the committee’s hearings and referenced in the final report from the Australian Marine Science Association impressed upon the committee the volume of scientific literature concerning the efficacy of marine parks. Professor Booth provided the committee with a bibliography of 1,098 articles produced around the world and locally about marine parks. That is 1,098 peer-reviewed articles proving the benefits of marine parks and sanctuary zones.
I challenge members opposite to say that having some areas of the ocean off limits to fishing is not good for fish stock recovery, fish size and fish abundance. I challenge members opposite to provide evidence to the contrary or to say that that is not reasonable. That is what we are talking about. I could provide members with hundreds of other similarly peer-reviewed articles from both Australia and New Zealand. Recently scientists met at an international workshop to talk about the impending disaster facing fish stocks. We will confront unprecedented levels of extinction if we do not address not only depletion of fish stocks but also climate change. The three-day workshop involved 26 expert researchers in marine science from six countries. They are prophesising a perfect storm in terms of the collapse of fish stocks in our oceans.
The Hon. Robert Brown: It’s a bit like global warming.
The Hon. CATE FAEHRMANN: Yes, it is just like global warming. I do not know whether I can identify anyone on the Government and cross benches who believes that climate change is real.
The Hon. Rick Colless: I know it exists.
The Hon. CATE FAEHRMANN: I will rephrase that: I do not think anyone opposite agrees that anthropogenic global warming is real. A similar attack on science is also occurring in the marine science field. My colleague Dr John Kaye gave notice of a motion dealing with the scientists’ annual meeting with Commonwealth parliamentarians at which they felt compelled to address the concept of respect for science because they are being attacked so often by the likes of members opposite, who are discrediting scientists because they are fearful of what it means if the science is correct.
The Hon. Rick Colless: You should read both sides of the science.
The Hon. CATE FAEHRMANN: I have. The scales are slightly unbalanced here, because we are talking about three crackpots and approximately 10,000 climate and marine scientists. Who do members listen to when they want to know about marine science? Do they listen to Ecofishers, which is an extreme element of the recreational fishing lobby? Are members getting advice from—
The Hon. Robert Brown: Name them. Who are they?
The Hon. CATE FAEHRMANN: Professor Ian Plimer is one. I am also sure that members opposite will be attending lectures given by Lord Monckton when he visits Australia next month. It is a good thing that Parliament will not be sitting because they will be able to follow their bug-eyed hero around the country.
The Hon. Jeremy Buckingham: Point of order: I am finding it very difficult to hear the honourable member’s important contribution.
DEPUTY-PRESIDENT (The Hon. Natasha Maclaren-Jones): Order! There is too much audible conversation in the Chamber.
The Hon. CATE FAEHRMANN: I was about to refer to voodoo science and voodoo environmentalism. The Hon. Duncan Gay says that the science behind marine parks is “voodoo science”. That is what we are hearing from Government members. Thousands of scientists—that is, people who have dedicated their lives to researching the marine environment—have counted the remaining fish stocks. I have a document entitled “Troubled Waters: A call for action” signed by thousands of marine scientists. It calls upon the world’s citizens and governments to recognise that the living sea is in trouble and to take decisive action. It points out that we must act quickly to stop further severe irreversible damage to the sea’s biological diversity and integrity. It also states that life in the world’s estuaries, coastal waters, enclosed seas and oceans is increasingly threatened by over-exploitation of species, physical alteration of ecosystems, pollution, introduction of alien species and global atmospheric climate change.
Scientists have documented the extinction of marine species, the disappearance of ecosystems and the loss of resources worth billions of dollars. Members should think about what that means. It would be interesting to hear what the Government is doing to protect fish stocks.
Perhaps the Government will be breeding fish somewhere and releasing them into the ocean—who knows? It will be interesting to see what it plans to do to protect fish stocks. I am not sure; I have not heard or seen anything. All I heard from the Coalition prior to the election was constant discrediting of marine science, constant discrediting of good people. If I were a marine scientist who had been working for the Government for the past 20 years—
The Hon. Duncan Gay: Point of order: The honourable member is misleading the House. The former Opposition did not discredit marine scientists; we discredited the science of the former Government, which is very different.
The PRESIDENT: Order! There is no point of order. The Minister will resume his seat.
The Hon. CATE FAEHRMANN: By declaring marine science “voodoo science” the honourable member is discrediting the science.
The Hon. Duncan Gay: I declared the science on marine parks voodoo science.
The Hon. CATE FAEHRMANN: What about the science that these marine parks are based on? That science is exactly the research I just mentioned.
The Hon. Duncan Gay: No, it is not.
The Hon. CATE FAEHRMANN: Yes. Marine scientists base their work on global marine science and scientific research conducted in New South Wales and Australia. Every marine park’s website has literature supporting the science behind sanctuary zones and documents supporting marine parks. The Marine Parks Authority secretariat certainly does. I obtained from the secretariat a document entitled “More Than Fishy Business: A Literature Review on the Benefits of Marine Parks” by Dr Melissa Nursey-Bray from the University of Adelaide. I also refer honourable members to my adjournment speech last Friday. In that five-minute speech I tried to get as much evidence and science as possible onto the record—because there is so much science. I note that the Leader of the Opposition mentioned a letter from, and statements by, the current head of the Australian Marine Sciences Association, Dr Melanie Bishop, who expressed her disappointment at the Government’s recent revocations. In October 2006 the president of the New South Wales branch of the Australian Marine Sciences Association, Dr Jane Williamson, wrote to the Hon. Duncan Gay. She was very disappointed about comments that he made on Radio 2SM on 9 October 2006, when he said:
The Australian Marine Sciences Association stated:
I assure members that some of those 150 marine scientists work for government. Clearly, they are public servants. Many marine scientists work in the current government, whether for the Department of Environment and Climate Change, the Office of Environment and Heritage, the Marine Parks Authority secretariat or for marine parks. The association went on to say:
Let us talk about future generations. This deal between the Shooters and Fishers Party and the Government will damage the ability of future generations to fish like the Hon. Robert Brown does right now. This deal will ensure that future generations will not be able to enjoy the sort of fishing or seafood that we enjoy now. That is not the end of it. This is an ongoing attack on marine science and on marine parks. And it will not stop here. I guarantee members that following this moratorium the deals will continue. If I were a marine scientist in this State I would be very disappointed—and if I worked for the Government I would be fearful for my job. Government members have discredited the science, and that is disgraceful. [Time expired.]
Posted on 23 June 2011 by Cate
Posted on 23 June 2011 by Cate
Biggest threat to fishing industry is Premier’s backroom deals with the Shooters & Fishers Party – Greens
Greens MP and environment spokesperson Cate Faehrmann says the Coalition has joined with the Shooters and Fishers Party to deny decades of sound marine science in favour of short term political expediency, securing their legislative agenda in the Upper House.
The Shooters’ bill for a 5 year moratorium on marine parks looks set to pass the Legislative Council with the support of the government.
“The biggest threat to fishing in NSW is not the Greens or environmentalists; it’s the Premier’s backroom deals with the Shooters and Fishers Party who deny the science,” said Ms Faehrmann.
“They are effectively cheating the next generation out of recreational fishing and jobs in the commercial seafood industry.
“This is a huge blow and massive insult to marine scientists who have worked their guts out to protect the future of the fishing industry and the future of recreational fishing.
“The previous Labor government wheeled and dealed with the Shooters and now the shoe is on the other foot. Meanwhile the Greens deal responsibly with each piece of legislation on its merits and won’t horse trade. The Coalition should start thinking about the long term consequences of its deals with this extreme fringe group, not just for the environment but for their government,” said Ms Faehrmann.
Media contact: Peter Stahel 0433 005 727
**UPDATE** Read Ms Faehrmann’s speech on the bill here.
Posted on 21 June 2011 by Cate
During the debate on the National Tree Day motion I committed to bringing to the attention of the House the important role that old-growth forests play in storing carbon and hence their role in tackling climate change. I am glad that the Hon. Robert Brown believes that “it’s a fact” that growing things absorb carbon dioxide, as this means he also acknowledges that old-growth forests, which are indeed growing, are absorbing carbon. Old-growth forests represent the second largest terrestrial biological carbon stocks on Earth on a per-hectare basis, after peat lands, and act as net sinks for carbon.
Deforestation and forest degradation, through agricultural expansion, conversion to pastureland, infrastructure development, destructive logging, fires, et cetera account for nearly 20 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, more than the entire global transportation sector and second only to the energy sector. When the Kyoto Protocol was formulated, only reforestation and afforestation—not deforestation prevention—were deemed eligible for carbon offsets. By stripping forest conservation of any functional value, a perverse incentive structure emerged: cutting and replanting trees provided countries with an optional revenue stream, but keeping living trees standing did not.There are important distinctions between the carbon dynamics of natural forests and plantations. The majority of biomass carbon in natural forests resides in the woody biomass of large old trees. Commercial logging changes the age structure of forests so that the average age of trees is much younger. The result is a 40 per cent reduction in the long-term average standing stock of biomass carbon compared with an unlogged forest. The green carbon in natural forests is stored in a more reliable stock than that in plantation forests, especially over ecological timescales.Natural forests store green carbon more consistently, are more resilient to disturbances and contribute to biodiversity. In his speech, the Hon. Robert Brown graciously admitted that old-growth trees are needed to protect our native species. Indeed, natural forests are ecologically important habitat for plants, animals, and microorganisms. In general, the quality of a forest habitat is a function of its size and structural complexity, including the amount of spatial variation in stem density and the amount and size of the large woody debris in the area. Numerous studies, including those of Keeton et al, Franklin and Van Pelt, and D’Amato, Orwig, and Foster, have found that older forests contain these characteristics in greater abundance than younger forests.
Research released in 2008 by Luyssaert indicates that natural forests may be serving as a continual net carbon sink over time. This differs from the outdated and heavily relied upon research conducted by Odum in 1969, which assumed old-growth forests are carbon neutral, or where the change in carbon mass over time is zero. Mackey et al in their Australian National University Green Carbon report tested the Australian Government’s National Carbon Accounting System [NCAS] and found that it had underestimated the carbon carrying capacity of natural forests with high biomass stocks. The National Carbon Accounting System was designed to model biomass growth in plantations and afforestation-reforestation, not in natural forests.
With this discovery and further research Mackey et al found that Australian natural forests have far larger carbon stocks than has been recognised. In fact the highest biomass carbon stocks, with an average of 1,200 tonnes of carbon per hectare and a maximum of over 2,000 tonnes per hectare, are in mountain ash forests in the central highlands of Victoria and Tasmania. In their natural condition, about 33 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide can be stored in these forests, but about 56 per cent of them have been logged. If the logged areas were allowed to grow undisturbed again, about 7.5 billion tonnes of additional carbon dioxide could be stored in them.
Natural forests play a significant role in the global carbon cycle. Biomass and soil store approximately three times the amount of carbon that is currently found in the atmosphere, and the annual exchange of carbon between the atmosphere and natural forest is 10 times more than the annual global carbon emissions from humans burning fossil fuels. The remaining intact natural forests constitute a significant standing stock of carbon that should be protected from carbon emitting land-use activities. Industrialised forests are human made, namely plantations, and store brown carbon. This carbon is more readily lost due to the industrialised forests’ susceptibility to disturbance. These human-made forests also have reduced genetic diversity, reduced resilience to pests and are lacking in biodiversity. Carbon stored in plantation forests must also include the carbon emissions associated with land-use and associated management, transportation and processing activities. However, there is substantial potential for carbon sequestration in forest areas that have been logged and allowed to regrow undisturbed by further intensive human land-use activities.
I thank the Hon. Robert Brown for outlining The Greens policy in his recent speech about climate change. Indeed, the Greens believe that if Australia is to stabilise and reduce its emissions in time to make a contribution to global efforts to slow climate change, storing more carbon in the landscape is classified as a useful interim measure while the nation weans itself off fossil fuel-based electricity production. Ending logging of our natural native forests, as opposed to plantation logging, yields some quick gains while allowing the slower process of transforming energy and transport systems to unfold. This does not mean an end to the timber industry, nor does it lead there; in fact it leads to a sentiment that the Hon. Robert Brown and the Greens share—that New South Wales needs more forests. We just do not believe in logging existing natural forest in favour of industrialised substitutions which are not supported in their efficiency to store carbon by clear scientific evidence.
Posted on 21 June 2011 by Cate
The NSW Legislative Council has passed a motion moved by Greens MP and dental health spokesperson Cate Faehrmann, calling on the government to increase dental health spending and to address inequities in the delivery of services.
“Having bad oral health is linked with other serious diseases, ability to find employment, general well-being and mental health,” said Ms Faehrmann.
“Tooth decay is one of Australia’s most costly diseases, ahead of coronary disease, hypertension and diabetes. It has wide ranging and significant impacts in the community, and hits those from the lowest socioeconomic groups, as well as regional areas, the hardest.
“The Australian Greens have a comprehensive plan for a national ‘denticare’ scheme, but the NSW Government shouldn’t be shirking on its responsibilities in this area. NSW has the lowest public dental funding per capita of any state or territory,” said Ms Faehrmann.
The full text of the motion, passed by the NSW Legislative Council, is copied below.
Media contact: Peter Stahel 0433 005 727
42. Ms Faehrmann to move—
1. That this House notes that:
(a) oral health is one of the areas of greatest health inequity in New South Wales,
(b) people from the lowest socioeconomic groups have fewer teeth, are more likely to have
all of their teeth missing, and have poorer oral health outcomes than other groups,
(c) in rural and regional areas people are more likely to have tooth decay, more likely to
have no natural teeth, have less frequent check-ups and have fewer preventative
treatments compared to urban residents,
(d) Aboriginal people have significantly higher levels of gum disease, tooth decay and
greater numbers of missing teeth than the general population,
(e) poor oral health is linked to poor physical and mental health,
(f) tooth loss is associated with impaired eating, poor nutrition and weight loss, anaemia and
gastrointestinal conditions, and diet-related ill health,
(g) periodontal disease and poor oral hygiene is associated with aspiration pneumonia, a
leading cause of mortality in older Australians, and increased risk of heart disease and
(h) oral infection in adults, such as viruses, bacteria and yeasts, is associated with diabetes,
hardening and narrowing of the arteries, heart and cerebrovascular disease, preterm or
low birth weight babies, osteoporosis, pulmonary diseases and disorders, respiratory
illness, and renal disease,
(i) oral infection in children is associated with otitis media, that is, middle ear infection,
delayed growth and development, and can lead to future orthodontic needs,
(j) the effect of dental disease or tooth loss on physical appearance can lead to a loss of self
esteem, restrictions on social and community participation, and impede a person’s ability
to gain employment, further entrenching the cycle of disadvantage and social exclusion,
(k) the majority of oral disease and tooth loss is preventable,
(l) dental caries, or tooth decay, is the most prevalent health problem in Australia,
(m) periodontal disease, or gum disease, is the fifth most common health problem in
(n) section B9 of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) National Health and
Hospitals Network Agreement asserts that the states will have continuing policy and
funding responsibility for existing public dental services,
(o) New South Wales has the lowest public dental funding per capita of any state or territory,
(p) as of September 2010, there are over 118,000 people on public dental waiting lists in
New South Wales, and over 26,000 of these are children,
(q) systemic barriers to accessing dental services are the main cause of continuing inequities
in oral health for low income and disadvantaged people in New South Wales, and
(r) good oral health is fundamental to overall health and wellbeing.
2. That this House:
(a) congratulates the NSW Oral Health Alliance for their work advocating for improved
public dental services in New South Wales, and
(b) commits to taking steps necessary to reduce oral health inequities in New South Wales.
3. That this House calls on the Government to:
(a) recognise its funding responsibility for public dental services,
(b) increase funding for public dental services in New South Wales,
(c) take appropriate steps to enhance public dental infrastructure, and
(d) commit to actions that address oral health inequities within the community.
(Notice given 5 May 2011)