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Marine Farm Planning Review Panel - Resignation of Members
Dr WOODRUFF question to MINISTER for PRIMARY INDUSTRIES and WATER, Mr
You admitted yesterday that Professor Barbara Novak and Ms Louise Cherry
had written to you outlining their reasons for resigning from the Marine
Farm Planning Review Panel. Is it true that one reason they gave was that
the Storm Bay assessment lacked basic relevant scientific information, and
was another reason that the panel only exists for the operational
convenience of the fish farming industry?
Ms O'Connor - Why are you so Smuggy McSmugface?
Madam Speaker, I will not comment on that offensive remark from the member
I am happy to respond to the question from the member for Franklin because
it is very similar to the two questions I received yesterday with respect
to the role of the panel. I want to make it very clear that I have
confidence in the Marine Farm Planning Review Panel. I met with the
chairman last week specifically to discuss the work of the panel. I put
on record my thanks on behalf of the Government for the work and service
of the panel and the service of those two members that have just been
referred to. I want to put on the record again my thanks in the
Parliament for their service and their support working on the panel from
Professor Barbara Novak and Louise Cherry.
I note that those members of the Marine Farm Planning Review Panel who
recently resigned, as has been noted, were part of the process
recommending the two plan amendments recently approved for Storm Bay for
Tassal and Huon Aquaculture. That independent advice obviously came
forward and has been approved. If it does go ahead there are benefits in
terms of 180 additional jobs in the salmon sector and across the economy,
but it is always subject to and conditional upon further applications to
gain a marine farm planning licence, a marine farm lease and EPA approval.
Dr WOODRUFF - Point of order, Madam Speaker, under standing order 45,
relevance. The minister slithered out of answering either question
yesterday. I asked a specific question: did their reasons contain the
fact that the assessment had a lack of basic scientific information and
that the panel only exists for the operational convenience of the fish
farming industry? That is the question, minister. Please answer it.
Madam SPEAKER - Thank you very much. It is not a point of order but I
understand the question and I ask the minister to respond.
Mr BARNETT - Thank you very much, Madam Speaker. I am delighted to
respond again and confirm that I have received a letter from those members
of the panel who have resigned. There was a letter sent to the Governor
some time ago and a letter sent to me last week. I responded very swiftly
to that letter. In fact, on Friday, I signed the letter going back to
those two members and noted and acknowledged their concerns and the issues
they raised in their letter.
Ms O'Connor - Aha - 'their concerns'.
Mr BARNETT - Yes, I acknowledged their concerns and the issues they raised
in their letter and I acknowledged that in writing. I wrote to them
personally and I organised and asked for the secretary of my department to
make himself available to those two members to discuss those concerns and
issues. That is underway, I understand, and I am looking forward to the
feedback I receive from the department secretary from that meeting.
Dr WOODRUFF - Madam Speaker, point of order under standing order 45,
relevance. None of the information the minister has provided is relevant
to the question I asked. He is abusing the time of the House. This is
not about him having an opportunity to avoid answering the question. This
is a serious question and the minister refuses to answer. Can he just say
'no' and sit down if he will not do it?
Madam SPEAKER - I thank you for the sincerity of your point of order.
However, I have been advised that if we continue to keep taking points of
order under standing order 45 it becomes disruptive to the House and that
is not acceptable either. I will ask the minister to wind up and perhaps
you will get the answer.
Mr BARNETT - Thank you very much, Madam Speaker. It gives me the
opportunity to highlight the importance of the independence of the Marine
Farm Planning Review Panel and hence I met with the chairman. I am
confident in the role of the panel and the work that they undertake.
Under our Government we have increased the role of the EPA as an
independent entity. We have given further strength. We have toughened
the rules and have increased the penalties with respect to the salmon
industry. We have full confidence, unlike the Greens, who every day, have
tried to criticise and undermine the salmon industry as they have done for
forestry, other industries, tourism. This is form for the Greens.
The big question I asked yesterday: why is Labor so silent? Why do they
remain silent when it comes to the salmon industry? Why cannot they stand
up and support the salmon industry?