Daniel Mercer and Gary Adshead, The West AustralianUpdated July 30, 2013, 2:01 am
Fisheries Minister Troy Buswell has had to defend the State Government’s marine park agenda after joking he had “no idea” what the reserves do and implying they were driven by green groups.
In its first term, the Government shored up its green credentials by setting up major marine parks and announcing plans for more, with Colin Barnett hailing them as key conservation measures.
But Mr Buswell appeared to undermine that message when he told fishermen last week that marine parks were simply “lines on a map” that in some places duplicated existing protections.
“I love marine parks – I have no idea what they do,” he said.
“Every time someone says to me ‘We need a marine park’, I say ‘What’s it going to do?’
“In the Kimberley we have a marine park in Camden Sound to protect whales which are already protected.”
He said marine parks were driven by a small, select group of people. “We don’t have to mention them by name,” he said. “We all know who they are.”
Yesterday Mr Buswell sought to clarify the comments by saying any marine park needed to have a proper purpose that was reflected in its management plan.
He would not say if he was concerned about any of WA’s marine reserves but pointed to his letter to the Federal Government that called for changes to Commonwealth marine park plans.
Though the Premier would not be drawn on Mr Buswell’s remarks, he backed his minister.
“I don’t know what Troy said, but you have two systems of marine parks,” Mr Barnett said.
“The WA Government has expanded marine parks in the capes area in the South West and the Kimberley. They are the marine parks that most people interact with.”
Shadow environment minister Chris Tallentire said the benefits of marine parks were well established and it seemed odd Mr Buswell would disparage a policy his Government championed.