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Parliamentary Questions

Question Without Notice No. 1085 asked in the Legislative Council on 25 September 2019 by Hon Jim Chown

Minister responding: Hon D.J. Kelly
Parliament: 40 Session: 1

Answered on 25 September 2019

FISHERIES — LOCAL LOBSTER PROGRAM

1085. Hon JIM CHOWN to the minister representing the Minister for Fisheries:

The Premier's statement of 23 September 2019 in The West Australian for the extension of the local lobster program came about only due to pressure from the opposition over the weekend, especially considering that the local lobster program ceased to operate on 31 April 2019.

(1) When will the minister be formally responding to the Western Rock Lobster Council in his official capacity as Minister for Fisheries to confirm that the local lobster program is endorsed by the McGowan government?

(2) Why has it taken the minister five months to respond to this very important program that allows lobsters to be made available at an affordable price to Western Australians?

(3) Will the minister's formal response approve the proposed increase by the WRLC that would allow even more affordable lobsters to be made available to the public of Western Australia?

(4) If no to (3), why not?

Hon ALANNAH MacTIERNAN replied:

I will be seeking some guidance later about whether statements like that from the member in his preamble can be inserted into a question, but I just want to say we totally and utterly reject that he is effective in any way!

Several members interjected.

The PRESIDENT: Order!

Hon ALANNAH MacTIERNAN: We absolutely reject that he has any effectiveness whatsoever. But in answer to the actual question, as opposed to the diatribe, the Minister for Fisheries has provided the following information.

(1)–(2) The local lobster program is an annual program that takes place over the summer season to Easter each year. There is no suggestion that the program would be cancelled, nor has the industry raised a concern with me that the program would not continue for the upcoming season. The opposition's claims on this matter are simply not true.

Hon Jim Chown: So why did the Premier make the statement in the paper, then?

Hon ALANNAH MacTIERNAN: If it is in The West, it must be true; is that the member's proposition?

(3)–(4) The local lobster program was reviewed by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development in November 2018. That review found that the program had limitations. The review found it was too inaccessible to the local public and local restaurants, and significant amounts of the lobster caught for this program were used by fishers themselves rather than sold to the public. That is why we sought to significantly increase local lobster supplies under a new program that would have been accessible to restaurants and hotels to boost tourism and create Western Australian jobs. This was to be on top of the back-of-the-boat experience currently provided by the existing local lobster program. On two occasions this year we reached agreement with the Western Rock Lobster Council on this significant increase to local supply. Disappointingly, the industry chose to walk away from these agreements. If the industry would now like to seriously develop the local lobster supply, we are happy for it to come back and honour the agreements it previously made.