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Tuesday, 7 February 2017
Page: 141

Senator POLLEY (Tasmania) (20:16): I rise in support of the aquaculture industry, and in particular the salmon industry in my home state of Tasmania. I stand side by side with the many Tasmanians and their families who work in this proud industry for their livelihoods.

Aquaculture now provides more than 50 per cent of the world's seafood and it is acknowledged around the world as being the fastest growing food sector, with global production expected to double by 2030. Sustainable aquaculture will be fundamental in providing sustainable food solutions for global populations.

The aquaculture industry now has a gross annual production value of more than $625 million to the Tasmanian economy. With more than 80 per cent of the product sold domestically, the possibility for export expansion is significant. According to industry, at current rates, salmonid production is expected to grow to be worth more than $1 billion annually by 2030. The aquaculture industry's economic contribution to my home state cannot be underestimated. Independent economic analysis shows that on average annual turnover or total value of industry production exceeds $1.1 billion. Therefore the economic impacts are great, and we are proud of these statistics.

Tasmania's primary industries, including the aquaculture industry, are the engine room of Tasmania's economy. From pretty humble beginnings just 20 years ago, the Tasmanian salmon industry now generates 5,200 Tasmanian jobs and 5,000 spin off jobs. These are jobs in high need areas and most of them are full-time jobs in regional areas. The fact is that this industry has the potential to support many more local families.

Tasmania has five large primary producers of high-quality fish—Tassal, Huon Aquaculture, Saltas, Van Diemen Aquaculture and Petuna. Recently, these companies have been under attack from the Greens working in conjunction with Let's Grow Tasmania's Future and Graeme Wood, who have admitted to funding their campaign against the industry. Mr Wood is very well known to the Greens. He donated $1.6 million to them in 2011 and then a further $130,000 to the Tasmanian Greens during last year's federal election campaign. And then we have Mr Andrew Wilkie, who has also been speaking out against this very valuable and important industry—it is pretty typical of Mr Wilkie that he likes to have a bob each way. He, along with the Greens and Mr Wood, is hell-bent on destroying the salmon industry. They are determined to demonise the industry; they seem determined in undermining the many jobs and families that this industry employs in important regional areas, where we need those jobs. Those jobs have the ability of keeping young Tasmanians in those rural areas.

The fact is that this industry is a world leader. The industry is known around the world for having world's best environmental practice and is regularly contacted by international companies for advice on sustainability measures.

In 2015, the Senate inquiry found that: environmental concerns raised were not supported by expert advice and objective scientific data; the state government was overseeing a comprehensive and robust monitoring regime; and the evidence provided to the committee about the impacts of the industry in no way justified extra bureaucratic measures or more onerous regulations. They were the findings of the inquiry.

Tasmania is known nationally and globally for its clean, green product and we are proud as a state to produce such high quality Atlantic salmon and ocean trout for people at home and abroad. Tasmania's brand power is second to none, and we understand that aquaculture has the potential to significantly power our state's future economic growth.

The former state Labor government approved the expansion of salmon farming in Macquarie Harbour and the federal Labor government invested $7 million towards the Macquarie Harbour Aquaculture Hub—a project that is creating hundreds of jobs and growth in regional Tasmania. The Gillard government also made a $16 million investment in fishery and aquaculture research and development nationally. Labor is very proud, and we have every right to be, of this industry and we are committed to supporting it.

EMRS market research found late last year that 85 per cent of Tasmanians have either a positive or neutral attitude towards the aquaculture industry, while 92 per cent consider that farmed salmon has significant economic benefits for the state and that salmon farming provides important training and employment opportunities for local communities. Close to three quarters of respondents—74 per cent in total—were in support to some degree of the expansion of the salmon industry, which is great news. This only strengthens the social license for this superb Tasmanian industry, an industry, I might add, that is now independently regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency. It should also be noted that the state government has also strengthened enforcement mechanisms to enable fines to be imposed for environmental pollution that are a true deterrent.

I want to talk about some Tasmanians who proudly rely on this industry. Bernice Bott lives at Surges Bay and has worked in the aquaculture industry for 20 years. She has worked with Tassal for a combined 13 years—six years at Dover and nearly seven years at Huonville. Ms Bott enjoys her job very much. She is very proud of her job. She is proud of the companies she has worked for and she is proud of the international recognition that the industry has. The industry is very important not only to Ms Bott but also to five other members of her family. That is five members of one family that all derive their income and self-esteem from being employed in their local area. I know that Ms Bott and so many other families are proud to be working in this important industry.

There is also Trish, the owner of the Dover Hardware Store. Her late husband, Gary, started in the aquaculture industry over 30 years ago at the Saltas farm near Hawkers Point Dover. He was one of the first employees of Tassal and actually did the dive to secure the first mooring. They know the value of aquaculture because that impacts on their small business. They know the value of this industry and they, along with tens of thousands of other Tasmanians, are not going to allow the Greens to destroy yet another industry that is so important to the Tasmanian economy. Salmon farming has allowed our community's young people to stay and work in their own area as well as encourage them to get additional skills and to further their education.

The Australian Workers Union has been steadfast in its support for the industry. Mr Ian Wakefield, the secretary of the AWU, has been at the forefront of raising this as an issue and has been supporting his members in this important industry. It has been picked up nationally and I am very proud, along with my Labor colleagues, to be here in this chamber tonight speaking about this important industry.

But history has shown that success cannot be taken for granted. If consumers lose faith in the product, and that is what the Greens are hoping, then that would be detrimental not only to this industry but to the entire community. That is why the Australian Workers Union has started a campaign to build support for the salmon industry, to protect Tassie aquaculture jobs. The campaign says 'Tassie Salmon: Our Jobs. Our Future' and is raising awareness about the success of this industry. Over 1,100 people have signed an online pledge to support the industry, and families across the state are engaging in the Facebook and twitter campaigns, with over 1,800 people following the AWU campaign through Facebook.

As I said, this is an extremely important industry to the Tasmanian economy and, I have to say, it is an industry that has crosspartisan support. The state Liberal government in Tasmania supports this industry. They were there with us when we rallied for support in Hobart just over a week ago along with Labor. I sincerely hope that we will have a contribution at some stage from the Liberals Tasmanian senators to support this enormously important industry. We should be supporting Tasmanian jobs. We should be supporting those Tasmanian jobs in rural and regional areas of Tasmania. This industry is too important and I, for one, am not going to stand by and allow the Greens to destroy another economically important industry in Tasmania.