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Premier – Fish Farms

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Monday, 5 June 2023

Tags: Fish Farms, State Budget

Ms O'CONNOR - Premier, you often talk about Tasmania having the world's best-practice salmon industry. We would like to understand why you don't make those corporations pay more. The Norwegian government - which country arguably has the world's best-practice salmon industry and has a strong social licence - has announced a 35 per cent tax on cash flow. Given that you recently attended a dinner that cost $4500 a ticket with one of the Batista brothers, are you more inclined to do what JBS asks of you, or in terms of the finances of the salmon industry will you do what is the right thing to do by Tasmania's Budget? The Norwegian government argued that those natural resources belong to the people of Norway and therefore the resource rent of those resources needed to be reinvested in the Norwegian people.

Mr ROCKLIFF - That is a good question, and we have reached into that general area in terms of cost recovery. We provide a range of services and support for Tasmania's salmon industry and some of these services are partially recovered from the industry through existing fees and charges. The access provided to Tasmania's natural resources enables industry success and profitability. Cost recovery is an important aspect of ensuring that regulatory services relating to the salmon industry are well resourced. One of the principles underpinning our Government's new salmon plan is a review of fees and charges to ensure full cost recovery, and an appropriate return to the Tasmanian community, so that is part of our salmon plan that has been recently released. The guidelines for costing fees and charges published by the Tasmanian Department of Treasury and Finance set out that fees and charges should initially be costed on a full cost recovery basis, and that social implications of applying the fee or charge should then be considered when determining whether a government subsidy is warranted for some users.

Ms O'CONNOR - Can I just pull you up there because we've got 90 seconds left? Henry Batista was in the Mercury the week before last calling for a complete rewrite of the rules and regulations that apply to the salmon industry so that JBS can expand. Are you prepared to rule out bowing to JBS's will and not weakening the rules and regulations but strengthening them around the salmon industry?

Mr ROCKLIFF - We have strengthened them.

Ms O'CONNOR - What are you going to do in relation to his call for a rewrite of the rules?

Mr ROCKLIFF - We're not going to rewrite the rules.

Ms O'CONNOR - Have you told him that, because he paid $4400 for a ticket to have dinner with you and probably expects that investment to pay off?

Mr ROCKLIFF - Ms O'Connor, we have strengthened continuously the rules and regulations around salmon farming in Tasmania -

Ms O'Connor - And yet the Maugean skate is almost extinct.

CHAIR - Order, Ms O'Connor, let the Premier answer the question.

Mr ROCKLIFF - proudly, I have to say, led by myself as minister for Primary Industries between 2014 and 2018, when we did have some quite considerable reform. We’ve spoken about that. We will continue to base regulation, transparency and environmental monitoring on a continuous improvement basis.