Dr WOODRUFF question to PREMIER, Mr GUTWEIN
The Benders are selling their shares in Huon Aquaculture after a chequered history of environmental damage, social disregard and animal welfare issues. Many Tasmanians would think it could not get any worse. Instead, JBS has moved in, the largest meat processing company on the planet and has an appalling environmental and human rights record. It is guilty of massive deforestation of the Amazon, clearing indigenous land, US price fixing and it refuses transparency of their products.
JBS also has form in Tasmania. It poisoned King Island by pumping raw abattoir effluent into Porky River and, after a $3 million bail-out grant from the Government to fix its mess, it turned around and sacked all the workers. When it suited their business model, they closed Quoiba and Longford. This company could not give a stuff about workers or their health and safety. They do not give a damn about the environment. They are Brazilian butchers, plundering the planet's resources and they are coming after our chief marine real estate -
Mr Ferguson - Is there a question? This is an adjournment speech.
Dr WOODRUFF - Hoovering up Huon Aquaculture is attractive for them, thanks to your Government's weak regulations of fish farming and massive expansion plans.
It is in everybody's interests for fish farming to be truly sustainable -
Mr FERGUSON - Mr Speaker, point of order. Could you draw the member to the question?
Dr WOODRUFF - I am very attentive to my questions.
Mr SPEAKER - Dr Woodruff, I ask you to go to the question. The preamble has been very long.
Dr WOODRUFF - Thank you, Mr Speaker. They are facts that need to be on the record so the Premier can answer the question which I am getting to now.
Premier, you said you found JBS to be a company that has been fair and reasonable to deal with. Will you retract that ludicrous statement and your support for the company? Will you create an independent EPA and regulate marine farming in Tasmania to protect our environment and economy?
Mr Speaker, that was quite a preamble to the question. I thank the member for Franklin for that long-winded question. There are a couple of points that I will make. First and foremost, Peter and Frances Bender have employed thousands of Tasmanians, invested millions of dollars in the state, created jobs and created a great product. Tasmanians should be proud of what they have done.
Regarding other matters that you raised, since coming to government this side of the House has strengthened regulation of the salmon industry, which is something you never did -
Mr SPEAKER - Order.
Mr GUTWEIN - Something you never did when you were in government. In fact, if memory serves me correctly you were a great supporter of Huon at one time. Again, hypocrisy writ large from the Greens.
The circumstances regarding the vendors and the sale of Huon is a matter for those purchasers, and I understand there may be a couple of them floating around.
Regarding JBS - and I have only had to deal with them on a one particular issue, which is when we needed to save the pork industry. I said quite publicly that they were a reasonable corporate citizen to deal with when we put that plan in place. In concert with the state they saved that industry and the jobs that it supported.
This matter will run its course. I note in the comments that you have made in here - which I think on a number of measures could be considered to be defamatory; I doubt you would say them outside of the House -
Ms O'Connor - JBS on the evidence is corrupt.
Dr Woodruff - They are deforesting the planet.
Mr SPEAKER - Order.
Mr GUTWEIN - Mr Speaker, I will return to where I started. I want to say to Peter and Frances Bender, who have been great supporters of Tasmania for a long period of time - thank you for the investment, thank you for the jobs that you have provided many of which are in regional and rural Tasmania, thank you for helping us to build a strong brand in salmon.
In terms of the rest of the commentary - I put it down as that - that came from the member for Franklin -
Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Mr Speaker. The Premier is mistaken. Every bit of information that Dr Woodruff put in her question is publicly available and referenced.
Mr SPEAKER - It is not a point of order, Ms O'Connor.
Ms O'Connor - The Premier is being misleading because he does not want to admit they are corrupt.