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Salmon Industry Growth Plan

26 September 2018
Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr WOODRUFF question to PREMIER, Mr HODGMAN

Your salmon growth plan marine carve-up, which was half-baked last year in the government's media unit, has no reference to marine science, the salmon industry or other stakeholders, most specifically from the coastal communities that were affected. The April 2018 minutes from your Scalefish Fishery Advisory Council record the Tasmanian Seafood Industry Council rejects that growth plan because of its failure to consult with fishery and community stakeholders. They are intending to lead a marine spatial planning project to do the work that you should have done.

Will you now admit that the salmon industry growth plan is junk, it does not have industry or community backing, and that you are in the process of reworking it behind the scenes? Will you reassure coastal communities that are angered and worried about the industry's rapid growth that in reworking this flawed plan you will ensure the protection of public waterways is prioritised, that communities and other stakeholders are formally consulted in advance, along with marine scientists, instead of them all being repeatedly ignored as is the case with your Government?

ANSWER

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for the question and welcome the opportunity as Premier but also as temporary minister in this space to respond to what are unfounded assertions. It allows me to point to what was a plan developed extensively by people who are expert in this field, including departmental officials, and including stakeholders. It was extensively consulted and will be an ongoing body of work where we will continue to consult with stakeholders, interested parties and communities and the experts who are helping us deliver sustainable growth in a sector that is so important to our state, which is important to its produce, its brand and also to positioning Tasmania as the nation's premium source - 

Ms O'Connor - Define 'sustainable'. You have no idea.

Madam SPEAKER - Order, Ms O'Connor, warning two.

Mr HODGMAN - for what is a very highly-regarded product notwithstanding the damage inflicted upon it by members opposite when it suits. It was not that long ago they were claiming to be the best friends of the salmon industry. Now they have reverted to type and once again are kicking at it. We will continue to deliver what is a sustainable industry growth plan that was built around the concept of sustainable growth. 

Dr Woodruff - Built by your media unit. You did not talk to anyone else about it. You did not even talk to the salmon industry.

Madam SPEAKER - Order, Dr Woodruff, warning number one.

Mr HODGMAN - It also respects environmental concerns, the need to protect our environment and to respect the interests of communities who are nearby or impacted upon by this form of activity which so often supports local jobs and businesses in those communities. We are delivering a balanced, reasonable and sustainable plan that addresses those issues and it does provide that framework for growth. 

It is also very transparent and we have been determined to keep it so because we understand there is public interest and there are also the needs of this sector, the industry, to know within what parameters they will work. This is important so that we can maintain not only confidence within the industry but also confidence within the community, biosecurity and ensure very sound environmental performance. It is under this Government that we have taken more steps, not only developing this plan but strengthening regulations and controls to protect our environment; things that did not happen under a Labor-Greens government. 

They have happened under a majority Liberal government. For example, the new Finfish Farming (Compliance and Monitoring) Unit has been established in the Environment Protection Authority. We have an independent information portal with a wider range of environmental information including additional real time data. That is in progress. We have made it clear to the industry there will be zero tolerance in relation to marine debris and that is important. In addition to existing compliance staff within the department, authorised officers for Marine and Safety Tasmania are working together to implement this approach.

Dr WOODRUFF - Point of order, Madam Speaker. Standing Order 45, I am listening with great attention to the Premier. He is going nowhere near addressing the question which is, will he be consulting on this? Is there a new reworking of the plan and will he consult on it?

Madam SPEAKER - I am sorry, Dr Woodruff, that is debating the question. Premier, please continue.

Mr HODGMAN - We stand by the plan. As I said in my opening observations, we will continue to work closely with all stakeholders and I identified those who were important. Not just the industry itself but affected communities, those with an interest.

Dr Woodruff - You are not changing the growth plan.

Madam SPEAKER - Order, Dr Woodruff, warning number two.

Mr HODGMAN - I am outlining how we will better do that and be transparent and allow all people with an interest in this area to engage with government because that is an important part of maintaining confidence within the industry but also confidence with interested stakeholders and other communities. The department has collected information from all companies in relation to the marine equipment they hold. This goes to additional measures we are putting in place to provide more certainty and confidence through a marine farming equipment register. 

Ms O'Connor - You are not answering the question again.

Mr HODGMAN - It is important you understand all the facts so the next time you ask a question is it not misinformed. That register is important. 

We are working together and this is an important part. It is not exclusively the province of the Greens of doing everything they would like. We are working together with interested parties to develop a contemporary biosecurity planning framework and it is a collaborative approach that will ensure a sound plan. It is anticipated a salmon biosecurity program will ultimately be incorporated into regulations under the proposed new biosecurity bill. We will continue to progress other initiatives that are outlined in the plan for all to see. I will not rule out continuing to consult and engage to ensure we deliver the best possible plan for a fantastic industry that is growing in this state and we will do so sustainably under this majority Liberal Government.