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Marine Farming Planning Review Panel - Petuna Fish Farm, Storm Bay

11 April 2019

 

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Madam Speaker, I rise to read back to the House the stink bomb that was quietly delivered by Mr Barnett this morning in question time when he revealed that he has accepted the recommendations of the Marine Farming Planning Review Panel and approved an application by Petuna to set up a massive fish farm off Betsy Island in Storm Bay. This was a sham process, it is a disgrace and I will take the House through the corrupted process that has been used to date.

A recommendation was made by the Marine Farming Planning Review Panel on 30 November and approved by the minister on 2 April. There was a four-month gap there. In the process of approval for the Marine Farming Planning Review Panel hundreds of people made submissions. There were public hearings that went for days in Hobart. Not a single submission or the public statement made in the hearings process was taken account of when the panel made its deliberation. We can be confident about that because we have had a look at the information that was provided to the panel by marine farming branch, the branch of the department that provided information to the panel on the submissions. They made an assessment about what information the panel should take account of and what it should not. On almost every occasion, the recommendation to the panel was that the representation that had been made or the submission that had been received did not create any need for modification of the draft amendment.

I want to read in the comments that were made by Christine Coughanowr on behalf of the Derwent Estuary Program, which was a bombshell in the hearing process. The Derwent Estuary Program had severe concerns about the impact on the nutrient load on the Derwent River with a proposed 40 000 tonnes of fish excrement going into Storm Bay and up into the Derwent River each year. Their comments make it clear that there is no environmental baseline, that there is no accounting for the impact on the whole system from the Storm Bay proposals. Christine Coughanowr, on behalf of the Derwent Estuary Program, raised concerns about water quality, substrate and fauna, marine vegetation, threatened species, introduced marine pests, climate change, environmental management, recreational fishing, land use and development, marine farm planning practice, holistic impact assessment. None of these were considered relevant by the department, the Marine Farming Branch, for the panel to take any account of in their assessment of the application.

This is a rubber stamp committee. Only five of the nine panel members were present when the decision was made for the Petuna Storm Bay approval. The panel was meant to have a person with expertise in biosecurity and that person was not there. A person with expertise in fish health, a person with expertise in environmental management, a person nominated by the chairperson of the Tasmanian Planning Commission and a person with boating, recreational and navigational issues. None of those people were on the panel when the recommendation was made by the panel for that particular application for Storm Bay to go ahead. It is a disgrace. It is an outrage. It is a total abuse of a process which the Government pretends to be world's best practice. It is anything but.

What we know is that the threatened screw shell is found in the vicinity of the lease in the survey area. In all likelihood, there will be an investigation of the EPBC impact of that Storm Bay fish farm on that particular animal. The EPA still has its processes to go through.

What is incredibly clear is that there was absolutely nothing that this Government was prepared to listen to in terms of science or community comments, the impact on other industries and the impact on the marine environment about this fish farm expansion going ahead. This is all about opening the door to the industry for access to public waterways, endangering the impact on the marine environment and on people's lives and people's businesses. There is nothing that the Liberal Party is doing to protect anything except the interests of those three big fish farm companies.

It is a shame. People do understand that this Government is not standing up for them or the marine environment. It is only the Greens who are speaking out about this. Labor is lock-step with this position. It is a false idea to imagine that it will benefit anyone other than the industry and its own private profit-making activities.