Ms WOODRUFF question to MINISTER for PRIMARY INDUSTRIES and WATER, Mr ROCKLIFF
The recent Four Corners report on our salmon industry raised serious allegations to a national audience about an environmental catastrophe in Macquarie Harbour, deceit around salmon expansion on the east coast and a cosy relationship between your department's regulation and promotion of this industry. It included a plea by a salmon company that employs 550 Tasmanians for stronger regulations to protect the future of this major regional jobs provider. Your response was to dismiss the show and its allegations as competitive tensions. The EPA now monitors and reports on company breaches but you have committed to doubling the size of the industry, which means leases in new marine environments. You still control these lease approvals and only your hand-picked stakeholders can have a say. What is good for the environment is good for industry and Australian consumers will be watching closely to see how Tasmania responds. Will you place a moratorium on fish farm expansions until you move the approval of new salmon farm developments into the independent resource management planning system?
Opposition members interjecting.
Madam SPEAKER - Order. I eject both members for Denison, Ms Ogilvie and Mr Bacon, until 2.30 this afternoon. I said 'Order' at least four or five times.
Mr Bacon and Ms Ogilvie withdrew.
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for her question and her interest in this matter. Of course we are poles apart when it comes to our support for jobs in rural and regional Tasmania and our support for the Tasmanian salmon industry, which is a world class industry. We want to see it grow responsibly and most importantly sustainably into the future.
Opposition members interjecting.
Madam SPEAKER - Order. I suggest the House sits in silence for the final question.
Mr ROCKLIFF - The independent director of the Environment Protection Authority now oversees regulations including enforcing much tougher penalties - tougher than when you were in government. The EPA was not in charge of fish farms when you were in government. We have strengthened the system.
The recent statement by the EPA proves that the system which is based on the same adaptive management approach that has always been in place is working with greater independence through the EPA and greater transparency around science-based decisions. We have significantly strengthened the regulatory system which we inherited under the Labor-Greens government. As a government we are committed to continuing to work with the industry to support the sustainable, responsible and accountable growth of Tasmania's world-class salmon industry of which a great majority of Tasmanians are enormously proud. The 5200 people who value their employment within the industry are also proud of it. Based on the most recent data, the director of the EPA is working with the companies to respond -
Ms WOODRUFF - Point of order, Madam Speaker. On the question of relevance, I specifically asked my question about a moratorium and approval. I have made it very clear that the EPA does that work. That is not what the question was about. It was a specific question.
Madam SPEAKER - The member can resume her seat. The question took three to four minutes to ask so I do not believe you can confine the question specifically to that. The Deputy Premier is attempting to answer a very lengthy question which contained a number of questions.
Mr ROCKLIFF - The key difference between those members and my view on the salmon industry is that we, as a government, want to see it grow responsibly and sustainably into the future. You simply want to shut it down along with all those jobs. You will never support it - like you tried to do with forestry. The Labor Party did in fact shut it down.
What you fail to remember is that we inherited your system where deterrents for failing to comply with legislation were relatively small. Penalties now include potentially enormous fines. For example, if the nitrogen cap breach which occurred in 2015, when your rules were in place, were now to occur the company involved would be fined up to $41 million.
We inherited your system, which included their approval in 2012 of an amendment to the Macquarie Harbour Marine Farm Development Plan. This amendment provided for an increase in lease area from 564 hectares to 926 hectares and modelled peak standing biomass to 29 400 tonnes. We are dealing with your system. We have strengthened penalty regimes and of course we have provided for the EPA to be regulating the system right across the supply chain which is a very responsible thing to do.
Madam SPEAKER - Order. The minister will wind up.
Mr ROCKLIFF - As minister for Primary Industries I am proud of this industry. We recognise it needs a regulatory regime, based on continuous improvement. We have improved the regulatory regime when it comes to salmon. It is transparent. I reject your assertion and your attack in fact on members of the marine farm review panel and I consider that as an attack on their individual integrity, which I reject. It is an independent system at arms length from the minister, as indeed it should be.
Ms Woodruff interjecting.
Madam SPEAKER - Order. I warn the member for Franklin, Ms Woodruff.
Mr ROCKLIFF - I reinforce our strong support for a valued industry. It is growing responsibly and sustainably and we value the 5200 direct and indirect jobs employed in the industry.