Dr WOODRUFF question to MINISTER for PRIMARY INDUSTRIES and WATER, Mr BARNETT
Two of the eight members of your marine farming review panel have resigned in protest at the recent approval of the salmon industry expansion into Storm Bay. They sent a joint letter to your department dated 27 August. Ms Louise Cherrie, a specialist in environmental management, and Professor Barbara Nowak, an expert in aquatic health and biosecurity, both sent a follow-up letter to you earlier this month outlining their specific concerns about the approval process and a basis for the decision. Can you confirm these two scientists resigned because of the flawed approval process and will you table both these letters to the House today?
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for her question. It is coming from a member of the Greens who has a very strong record of criticisms and attacks on our productive industries going back to hydro industrialisation, our forest industry and now the salmon industry. There is no better supporter of the salmon industry in Tasmania than the Hodgman Liberal Government.
I have full confidence in the Marine Farming Planning Review Panel and the advice it provides to Government on marine farm planning matters. It is an independent authority. It is set up under the law, the Marine Farm Planning Act 1995. It provides expert and independent advice to me and the minister of primary industry on matters relating to marine farming planning matters. Frequent, robust debate occurs during that process, as I would expect and as any minister would expect of such a body.
I am pleased to say that I met with the chairman of the panel last week. I wanted to meet with the chairman, Craig Midgley. I had a meeting with him and it confirmed my confidence in the panel and the work of the panel. I give my thanks to the panel members for their work and for their service to me as the minister, to the Government and the important role they play in our sustainable salmon industry. I am extremely grateful to all the panel members for contributing their expertise to this important statutory planning process.
I have received a letter from the two members of the panel who have resigned, as the member for Franklin advised the House. I received that letter and I responded to that letter in writing last week. I have noted the concerns -
Ms O'Connor - Table it.
Mr BARNETT - Sorry, it was a private letter from them to me, as minister. I have responded to that letter. I have set out my acknowledgement and thanks to them for their service to the panel.
Dr WOODRUFF - Point of order, Madam Speaker, Standing Order 45. I asked a question. Can the minister confirm they resigned because of the approval process, and will he table their joint resignation letter?
Madam SPEAKER - He has already answered the question. He won't be tabling it. It is not a point of order because I cannot put words into the minister's mouth.
Mr BARNETT - Thank you very much, Madam Speaker. I am doing my best to respond. I met with the chairman of the panel only last week. I responded to the letter from those two members that they forwarded to me and I received last week. I have acted as swiftly as possible. They have outlined a range of concerns and issues in their letter. I have put on the record my thanks to them for their service. I have talked to the chairman and have been reassured of my confidence in the panel and the wonderful work they do for and on behalf of the Government.
In addition, in that letter to those two panel members, I have indicated and asked my secretary of the department to make himself available to meet with those two members to understand more about their concerns and issues and the reason for their resignations. I have acted as swiftly as possible. Last week I sent that letter -
Ms O'Connor - Why did they resign?
Mr BARNETT - The secretary of the department has agreed to make himself available to meet with those two panel members. I am looking forward to hearing any feedback that is relevant from that meeting from the secretary of the department. There cannot be anything clearer in terms of the importance of our salmon industry. We have growth in the salmon industry, with 5000 jobs in rural and regional Tasmania, and that should not be forgotten.
Dr WOODRUFF - Madam Speaker, point of order under standing order 45, relevance. The question was why did they resign, not that they did resign . That is on the record. Why did they resign?
Madam SPEAKER - As you know, standing order 45 is the greatest frustration on Earth to a Speaker, but I cannot rule it in so I will ask the minister to wind up.
Mr BARNETT - Thank you, Madam Speaker. I have answered the question in full, in a comprehensive manner, and I have highlighted the importance of our salmon industry, something that the Greens continue to attack.