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Labor’s shambolic lobster plans laid bare

The Nationals WA have criticised the McGowan Government for its shambolic consultation process as Labor pushes ahead with plans to seize a stake in the Western Rock Lobster Fishery.

Leader Mia Davies yesterday joined fisheries spokesperson Colin de Grussa and fellow Nationals MPs at the Geraldton Fishermen’s Co-operative to discuss the impact of the State Government’s plan.

It came as the Fisheries Minister announced he would extend the period for submissions on Labor’s move to take ownership of 1385 tonnes of WA’s annual lobster catch.

“The 13-day extension – token as it is – is yet another admission that the Minister and the McGowan Government has botched this process,” Ms Davies said.

“The Minister has shown that his consultation process is just a box-ticking exercise before he forces his radical and damaging agenda upon the industry.

“This Labor Government has form when it comes to a lack of consultation – you only need cast your mind back to the culling of the School of the Air and funding cuts for CRCs.

“It is an arrogant, out of touch and reckless Government seemingly intent on doing real damage to the lives of ordinary West Australians.”

Ms Davies said there was merit in ensuring locally caught lobsters were more readily available for domestic consumption and the industry had proactively tried to work with Government to achieve this outcome. 

Mr de Grussa said feedback from industry was that the Minister was transfixed on seizing a commercial stake in WA’s western rock lobster fishery.

“The industry has provided alternatives to the Minister, including reserving a sizable amount of the catch for domestic consumption and the forming of a taskforce to develop a comprehensive tourism package linked to crays,” he said.

“The Minister’s refusal to consider these proposals shows he does not care about tourism outcomes and he seemingly doesn’t care that his plan to increase the commercial quota will put the sustainability of this world-leading fishery at risk or that industry figures show spawning numbers are dwindling. 

“This is nothing more than an ill-thought out Labor cash grab.”

Mr de Grussa said Minister Kelly’s plan to dilute the market would have grave consequences.

“We’ve already heard of regional boat builders losing contracts and others in the industry delaying investment decisions,” Mr de Grussa said.

“Every day this farce is allowed to continue is another day of damage to the Western Rock Lobster Fishery.”