Aquaculture Cost Recovery



About this Item
SpeakersGardiner The Hon Jennifer; Obeid The Hon Eddie
BusinessQuestions Without Notice


    AQUACULTURE COST RECOVERY
Page: 7072

    The Hon. JENNIFER GARDINER: My question is directed to the Minister for Mineral Resources, and Minister for Fisheries. Further to his imposition of a $350 annual contribution on each aquaculture permit holder, he is no doubt aware that meetings of many aquaculturalists were held last weekend. What is his reaction to the resolutions carried by aquaculture associations putting their foot down and stating that they will stall the making of any such payment until there has been proper consultation with their industry? Does he understand the anger of many people in this emerging industry at the way in which the introduction of this new charge is being implemented? Will he accede to the industry's request to have the introduction of the charge deferred until there has been appropriate consultation?

    The Hon. E. M. OBEID: Madam President—

    The Hon. D. J. Gay: Oh, he has notes for this one.

    The Hon. E. M. OBEID: Is the Deputy Leader of the Opposition trying to help the Hon. Jennifer Gardiner? She needs a lot of help.

    The Hon. D. J. Gay: I am trying to help you.

    The Hon. E. M. OBEID: I thought that the Hon. C. J. S. Lynn did the honourable thing.

    The Hon. M. R. Egan: He stood down. He knows his limitations.

    The Hon. E. M. OBEID: He knows when he should stand down. I commend him for that.

    The Hon. C. J. S. Lynn: You do not know when to shut up.

    The Hon. E. M. OBEID: It is one more supporter for his leader.

    The Hon. C. J. S. Lynn: Get back to the script.

    The Hon. E. M. OBEID: We all knew that the Hon. C. J. S. Lynn was about to be demoted, but he gave in first to help his leader. That is most commendable. The only trouble is that the Hon. Jennifer Gardiner does not know when to quit.

    The Hon. D. J. Gay: She at least knows where Bingara is.

    The PRESIDENT: Order! The Minister may proceed.

    The Hon. E. M. OBEID: The Hon. Jennifer Gardiner does not know when to quit. This Government currently spends $6.1 million each year on aquaculture. An independent report by the Centre for International Economics [CIE] has recommended—

    The Hon. D. J. Gay: You always sound better when you read something interesting that somebody else has written.

    The Hon. E. M. OBEID: The Deputy Leader of the Opposition should just listen as he might learn something.

    The Hon. D. J. Gay: You sound best when you read something that someone else wrote.

    The Hon. E. M. OBEID: Does the Deputy Leader of the Opposition not recognise that his party is out of touch with people, not only inland but also on the coast? If the honourable member would only listen, he might learn a little bit and convey that to his colleagues. An independent report by the Centre for International Economics has recommended that the Government recover $3.6 million per year from the industry. The report was circulated to the entire aquaculture industry for comment. After considering the industry's views and the current state of the aquaculture industry, I have deferred the implementation of the cost recovery framework for five years. That will give the industry time to prepare for any changes.

    The report has been referred to the newly established Advisory Council on Aquaculture, which will be asked to work with New South Wales Fisheries on a cost recovery framework. The council is made up of aquaculture experts from a broad cross-section of the industry who can advise me on the costs and services attributable to the aquaculture industry. In the meantime, it is not unreasonable that each aquaculture permit holder should help to recover some of the costs incurred by the Government. I have proposed that an annual fee of $350 be paid by each permit holder and most aquaculture transaction charges be adjusted to reflect a fair cost to industry. The proposed fee is a flat fee which does not differ according to the size of a farm; it applies to all permit holders equally.

    The Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti: Do you get to keep the money?

    The Hon. E. M. OBEID: For the benefit of the Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti, the answer is no. The money goes into a fund, but the Treasurer has been good enough to accept a moratorium on cost recovery for five years. The revised charges represent only 14 per cent of the $3.6 million that the CIE experts have said the industry should pay. I previously heard suggestions that there should be a permit fee that is proportional to the size of each fish farm. This is what the Hon. Jennifer Gardiner, supported by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, is saying.

    To even consider imposing such a charge, extensive consultation would need to take place across the entire industry. In any event, I have decided not to impose any additional charges based on area during the next five years while the cost recovery framework is being developed. All annual contribution and transaction charges will be placed in the aquaculture trust fund. I will consult the Advisory Council on Aquaculture on policies and priorities for expenditure from the fund. I will also present members of the council with a draft expenditure budget for the council's consideration. I need to consider any advice that the council may give about the nature of services provided to industry.

    The Carr Labor Government continues its commitment to supporting aquaculture by not only spending $4.6 million out of consolidated revenue but also by implementing an enhancement over the next three years of $3 million to continue the fine research that is being undertaken in the aquaculture industry. This Government is committed to supporting jobs in regional New South Wales. It is not too much to ask the industry to recover 14 per cent of the costs that consolidated revenue meets, through the budget, for that industry each year. Recreational fishers will supply about a third of the costs recovered and commercial fishers will also supply under a third.

    The Hon. D. J. Gay: So it is 33 per cent now.

    The Hon. E. M. OBEID: No doubt. Commercial fishers already pay a third of cost recovery.

    The Hon. D. J. Gay: Not 14 per cent?

    The Hon. E. M. OBEID: No. If the honourable member had been listening he would know that aquaculture pays at the rate of 14 per cent, which is frozen for five years.

    The Hon. D. J. Gay: Cost recovery!

    The Hon. E. M. OBEID: Cost recovery of the $3.6 million that consolidated revenue pays on the aquaculture industry's behalf. This Government continues to support the aquaculture industry. I suggest that the Hon. Jennifer Gardiner should get her facts right. A moratorium has been imposed upon cost recovery. The independent review undertaken by CIE recommended that the Government recover nearly $1 million per year over a three-year period, which means that over three years we would recover the whole $2.6 million. In recognition of this Government's support for aquaculture, it has frozen cost recovery to the value of $400,000 per year for the next five years. That is this Government's commitment to developing the industry.

    The Hon. D. J. Gay: You are into cost recovery. You are doing it.

    The Hon. E. M. OBEID: If the Deputy Leader of the Opposition misconstrues that information and suggests that recovery of 14 per cent is too much, he is letting down the stakeholders. I suggest that he has got it all wrong and that what he is saying is not the way to develop the aquaculture industry.