Dr WOODRUFF - You've become a minister at a very important point for one of our major industries, the salmon industry. It's a real juncture for us as a state. The 10 year Salmon Plan is coming up. We had a book released last year by Richard Flanagan, which has been reprinted numerous times, called Toxic: The Rotting Underbelly of the Tasmanian Salmon Industry. There is an ongoing markets campaign against the way salmon is not regulated properly in Tasmania.
I draw your attention to the purchase of Huon Aquaculture last November by JBS, a Brazilian meat company, the largest protein producer on the planet. They've been under investigation with serious concerns raised about their criminal activities and their environmental and worker safety harm. This is all track record laid out by the ABC's Four Corners. It includes videotaped police confessions by the two brothers who are fundamentally the key owners of the company for systemic bribery of officials, for jail time served for fraud and bribery, and for extreme workplace safety negligence which has caused grievous harm to Tasmanians and Australians. And also, for using the proceeds of crime to finance and purchase companies in the United States and for numerous environmental laws they have breached and been awarded the largest ever civil penalty in the United States.
There is strong evidence presented in Four Corners that the Brazilian brothers used the proceeds of crime in the United States and in Australia to purchase our companies. My question is, are you concerned about the track record of this company, which now owns one of Tasmania's largest salmon farm companies? Will you refer them to the Australian Federal Police so that we can go forward as a salmon industry very confident that there is no dirty money underpinning the purchase of one of our major companies?
Ms PALMER - I thank the member for the question. Tasmania needs both domestic and foreign investment to help deliver jobs, growth and opportunity in our state. We are the strongest supporters of Tasmanian farmers which is why we're investing over $50 million to accelerate the agricultural sector and support rural and regional farming communities.
Foreign investment that is balanced with the best interests of Tasmanians brings much-needed capital, technology and innovation into our state.
Australia has a robust foreign investment framework to ensure that foreign investment is beneficial for Tasmania. I have every confidence in the ability of the Australian Government to assess foreign investment proposals in line with the national interest.
In regard to part of your question around JBS ownership of Huon Aquaculture, as the member would be aware, foreign ownership is a matter for the Australian Government and responsibility rests with the federal Treasurer, as advised by the independent Foreign Investment Review Board. So, the Tasmanian Government has no jurisdiction or capacity to unduly influence that process.
All salmon producers, regardless of ownership, are subject to Tasmania's rigorous environmental and planning regime that governs marine farming in our waters. The Government will continue to work closely with all industry representatives to ensure the sector continues to be sustainably managed.
Tasmanians should be proud of our innovative and sustainable salmon industry, and we want them to be so into the future.
Dr WOODRUFF - You can say those words as though they are the truth but anybody who has been following the salmon industry in Tasmania knows that that is not true.
I invite you to use the opportunity of being a new minister and having this point in time, not to repeatedly parrot the talking points that have been the hallmark of this Liberal Government's mismanagement of the salmon industry, because it serves us very badly.
What we have is a company, JBS, that is now being investigated by the Australian Tax Office. They had legal advice to restructure their services to prevent them paying tax in Australia. Now they are being looked into by the Australian Tax Office. It's in court at the moment.
Do you condemn companies that have illegal practices like that, if that is found to be true? Or do you condemn the other illegal practices that have been found to be true? Are you happy to have a company like that operating in Tasmania?
Ms PALMER - I thank you for those questions. I will simply reiterate to you that foreign ownership is a matter for the Australian Government -
Dr WOODRUFF - That wasn't my question.
Ms PALMER - and responsibility rests with the federal Treasurer, as advised by the independent Foreign Investment Review Board. And can I state again; all salmon producers, regardless of ownership, are subject to Tasmania's rigorous environmental and planning regime that governs marine farming in our waters and we will continue to work closely with all industry representatives to ensure the sector continues to be sustainably managed.