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Labor blocks briefing on rock lobster reforms

The Nationals WA have expressed concerns after a request to be briefed on the State Government’s controversial rock lobster reforms was denied.

Spokesperson for fisheries Colin de Grussa said Nationals MPs had been seeking a briefing from Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly since the reforms were announced in December.

“More than a month since making his announcement and throwing the industry into turmoil, the Minister is still not prepared to offer a briefing to Members of Parliament to clarify or offer further detail on the policy,” Mr de Grussa said.

“I imagine this is because the Minister knows his rock lobster takeover is a dud policy that has no support from industry or recreational fishers.”

Member for Moore Shane Love attempted to secure a briefing with the Minister on December 18, however it was cancelled by Mr Kelly at short notice. Subsequent attempts to reschedule the briefing stalled as the Minister took leave.

The Nationals attempted to arrange a briefing with the Minister as soon as he returned from leave, but this briefing request was again denied.

“The feedback from the Minister’s office was that a briefing would be premature, as industry consultation was still ongoing,” Mr de Grussa said.

“I find this difficult to believe, as the Minister has found the time to give numerous briefings to the hospitality and tourism sectors over the past month.

“The Nationals represent electorates such as Moore and North West Central – where Labor’s proposed changes will have a significant impact – yet are being denied the opportunity to raise the concerns of fishing families and businesses with the Minister.”

The Nationals WA have been consulting widely with industry representatives over the past month, including the Western Rock Lobster Council, the Geraldton Fisherman’s Co-operative, the Dongara Professional Fisherman’s Association, Recfishwest, the Australian Hotels Association and others.

“We’ve received significant feedback from industry around their concerns at the lack of consultation and detail provided by the State Government,” Mr de Grussa said.

“It’s becoming increasing clear that Labor’s rock lobster reforms lack substance and won’t stand up under scrutiny, that’s why they are being selective in who they meet with.

“It’s also very concerning that we are hearing the Fisheries Minister threatening to abuse his executive powers to railroad these changes through without allowing for the Parliamentary process to occur.”