Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg has savaged Labor claims that new boundaries for marine park reserves will put the Great Barrier Reef at risk.
The federal government this week introduced changes to the regulation of 44 Australian marine parks, reducing green conservation areas around the reef from 50 to 25 per cent.
Labor is warning the changes will remove more areas from conservation than any other government in the world.
“It’s disingenuous in the extreme for the Labor Party to talk about cutting protections,” Mr Frydenberg told ABC radio on Friday.
“They introduced draft management plans back in 2012 that due to their chaotic approach never got implemented.”
The minister said there would be an extra 200,000 square kilometres of protection for the sea floor under his plans, and greater safeguards for hundreds of key conservation features like reefs, sea mounts and canyons.
“They will now have the highest level of protections – more so than under the Labor Party’s plans,” he said. Mr Frydenberg insisted he was striking the right balance between fishing and conservation.
“We’re allowing some of Australia’s five million recreational fishers to get access to more of the marine park,” he said.
“As well as ensuring the livelihoods of our commercial fishermen and the strength of coastal communities by allowing them to engage in sustainable fishing practices.”
Labor will move to disallow the changes in both houses of parliament.
The opposition will need crossbench support for its disallowance motion to succeed, with independent senator Derryn Hinch concerned about changes affecting the Coral Sea.