4.35pm: Abbott’s last event of the day, at the Australian Fishing Trade Show, feels like a victory lap.
He’s pitching directly to the fishermen and women of Australia … Abbott delivers a short stump speech in which he promises a Coalition government would suspend and review Labor’s marine park legislation.
The promise draws a big cheer from local fishermen and women.
“We do not want to lock up our oceans,” he says, adding that the “last thing” the Coalition would do is declare a marine protected area without proper consultation.
“We won’t make decisions that damage the lives and livelihoods of people without talking to people first,” he says.
Here's how the world works: Everything you do has an impact. It might seem small to you and your life but, collectively, we have a hell of an impact. The world is an ecosystem so, if one part of it is sick, it's not long before the whole thing is unwell.
I had the opportunity to see the Great Barrier Reef in 1998. I saw it again in 2011. The first time it was one of the most amazing things I had ever seen in my life. The second time it was a shadow of its former self. If you've ever seen a lively friend who had the misfortune of undergoing major surgery, it was something like that.
Overfishing has a profound effect on our world. The plan for marine reserves was a chance to start clawing back our aquaculture and improving the waters around Australia.
Tony Abbott's announcement is the continuation of the short-sighted philosophy that pushed us into a dangerous situation with our aquaculture.
I'm fairly blasé about most conservation problems. We're getting the tree thing under control. Plastic and aluminium recycling is sometimes more about self-righteousness than saving the planet.
But I am terrified of what we're doing to the world's water systems.
While we're looking at the trees, our destruction will come from the oceans and their inability to sustain life. Our life depends on their health and the creation of reserves where fishing could not occur was only the first step towards that.
Believe it or not, there are more important things than industry (and I fucking love industry!). If the marine reserves don't exist because of choices we make now, we will add to our collective shame.
Voting isn't enough in this situation. Pressure has to be put on the right people to change their minds.
Australian Marine Conservation Society has an email you can send. They also have a petition there, but I don't really hold with online petitions.
Send the email. Write out the argument in your own words. Include your local member and senators.
You don't have to start eating sustainable seafood and you don't have to spend any money. Just spend a bit of time to let decision makers know how important this is.
END HIPPIE RANT