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Wednesday, 31 October 2012
Page: 8638

Recreational Fishing

Senator FURNER (Queensland) (14:36): My question is to the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator Ludwig. Can the minister advise the Senate how the government supports the recreational fishing sector?

Senator LUDWIG (QueenslandMinister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and Minister Assisting on Queensland Floods Recovery) (14:36): I thank Senator Furner for his continued interest in the rec fishing industry. The Gillard government is a strong supporter of the recreational fishing industry. We developed and held recreational fishing round tables, which I have attended. I spoke at the recreational fishing conferences, bringing the sector straight to government. We have supported the National Recreational Fishing Conference and we have funded and implemented the national strategy for recreational fishing. At present we are engaged in the single biggest review of fisheries legislation, including how we can look at the recreational sector and how it fits within that framework. The Gillard government has a mature engagement with this sector. We have been able to balance the needs and rights of recreational fishers with the need to protect our environment for future generations. You only have to compare that history of investment and engagement with the absolute kick in the guts by Premier Newman in Queensland. He has cut 60 jobs out of Fisheries Queensland—

Senator Conroy: How many?

Senator LUDWIG: Sixty jobs. He has ceased funding for Sunfish Queensland, ceased the Fisheries Observers program, ceased the industry development program for commercial and recreational fishing, ceased the Fishcare Volunteers Program, ceased operational activity for water way barriers construction and cutting all funding for the national Fisheries Research and Development Corporation. Finally, in the ultimate insult to the recreational sector, the LNP has cut frontline fisheries research, confirmed in a letter last week. This government is working hard to support recreational fishers but we do expect states and territories to pull their weight as well, rather than just cutting 60 jobs, rather than cutting funds to fishers. (Time expired)

Senator FURNER (Queensland) (14:38): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. I share the same concerns as the minister at what the LNP government in Queensland is doing. Will the minister outline to the Senate why it is important to support the Australian pastime of fishing? Are there any recent views that underline the value of supporting the sector?

Senator LUDWIG (QueenslandMinister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and Minister Assisting on Queensland Floods Recovery) (14:38): I thank Senator Furner for his supplementary question. It is vital to support the sector. As we know, millions of Australians around the country are recreational fishers. In Queensland, there has been a visceral reaction against the cruel cuts by Premier Newman. I refer senators in this chamber to, and I am sure they all read, Bush 'n Beach—it is a good read and I subscribe to it. I will read from a selection of some articles—there was not one; there were five—about issues condemning Queensland for the cruel cuts in the rec fishing industry. Mr Robin Caddy, the President of Freshwater Fishing and Stocking Association of Queensland, said of the cuts, 'To be treated in this manner is deplorable.' Mr David Bateman, Deputy Chairman of Sunfish, said that, 'Delegates were astounded that the government's first reaction was to cut recreational fishing community projects—'. (Time expired)

Senator FURNER (Queensland) (14:40): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Can the minister inform the Senate if there are any risks to federal support for fisheries and recreational fishers?

Opposition senators interjecting

Senator LUDWIG (QueenslandMinister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and Minister Assisting on Queensland Floods Recovery) (14:40): I thank Senator Furner for his second supplementary question. Premier Newman is just the curtain-raiser for the cuts that would come from an Abbott government. Those opposite know that, that is why they are interjecting so poorly today. With relentless negativity, his cuts across recreational fishing would be reflected from a government led by him.

Opposition senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order! If you wish to debate the issue, the time to debate it is after question time—not now.

Senator LUDWIG: Before the Queensland election, the LNP told recreational fishers that, if elected, 'an LNP government will closely work with stakeholders to enhance the experience of recreational fishers in Queensland'. We know how that ended. At the start of this month, Senator Colbeck said in a media release: 'The coalition looks forward to working cooperatively with the recreational fishing sector to ensure that enjoyment continues.' It sounds familiar, Mr President, does it not? The LNP provide just hollow words and spin before taking an axe to the recreational fishing sector. (Time expired)

Senator Scullion interjecting

Senator Ian Macdonald: People have woken up to you, I have to say.

Senator Ludwig: Have you written to Campbell Newman?

Senator Scullion interjecting

Senator Colbeck interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order! I remind you Senator Scullion, and Senator Colbeck, that one of your colleagues is waiting to be called for the next question.