FISHERIES — LOCAL
1085. Hon JIM CHOWN to the minister representing the Minister
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?
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
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?
MacTIERNAN: If it is in The West, it must be true; is that 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.