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Government Administration Committee B - Regulation and Impact of Marine Farming Industry

[8.49 p.m.]

Ms ARMITAGE (Launceston) - Mr President, last September the Finfish Farming Environmental Regulation Bill 2017 passed through both the lower and upper Houses of this parliament and received royal assent in December 2017.

That bill transferred the power of environmental regulation of the finfish farming industry from the department of Primary Industries and Water to the Environment Protection Agency.

The passing of the bill enabled additional legislation and regulatory instruments to be created to better protect both the environment and the resource itself, the fish.

It is my understanding the new Environmental Management and Pollution Control. (Environmental Licences) Regulations 2018 are now published and are open for public comment, which will close on 29 June 2018.

This regulation sets out the statutory rules and penalties for owning and managing a marine or inland fishery and the requirement for future operators to obtain an environmental licence.

As so much regulatory work is already currently happening in this space and is not in effect as yet, it is unnecessary for the Government Administration Committee B to inquire into the marine farming industry at the current time. At present, that would be a waste of time and public money.

Once the new regulations have taken effect and operators have had sufficient time to change any management practices and to adhere to the new regulations, there may be a time to review the practices and logistics of the regulations.

Further to this, a Senate committee completed a comprehensive report on the regulation of the finfish aquaculture industry in Tasmania. The committee was chaired by Senator Anne Urquhart; its members included other Tasmanians - Peter Whish-Wilson, Lisa Singh and former senator Jacquie Lambie.

My understanding is that several of the recommendations from this report have been implemented and/or are in the process of implementation with more being considered. It is my concern that an inquiry at this time could undermine the industry and the work that has been achieved.

It is also worth noting the unease reported by the Australian Workers' Union Assistant Secretary Robert Flanagan who fears a new inquiry into the salmon industry would create stress for workers, that an inquiry was not in the public interest and that work was already being done on the impact of the industry.

Mr Flanagan said -

An inquiry would create unnecessary anxiety and uncertainty for workers.

Given the current circumstances, I will not be supporting the motion at this time.

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