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Thursday, 13 April 2000
Page: 15957

Mr O'CONNOR (3:10 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. Minister, are you aware of serious allegations made about the Australian Fisheries Management Authority by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry, Science and Resources, the member for Leichhardt, on Channel 10 news on Friday, 7 April? I quote:

There is corrupt elements and dishonest elements within the AFMA and I think it's about time that they were held—you know, responsible for their actions?

Minister, do you agree with the parliamentary secretary that there are corrupt and dishonest elements in AFMA? If so, what do you propose to do about his allegations? If you do not, when will you approach the Prime Minister to have the parliamentary secretary sacked for his intemperate and unsubstantiated attack on the officers of AFMA?

Mr TRUSS (Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry) —I thank the honourable member for Corio for his question. I note with interest his determination to defend the honour of public servants—something that is not shared obviously by his colleagues on the front bench, who only yesterday in this House used the privilege of parliament to besmirch the reputation of people who give honourable service to our country.

Mr SPEAKER —The member for Prospect is warned.

Mr TRUSS —I am certainly aware that there have been allegations about the AFMA board, particularly in relation to the way it dealt with the Northern Prawn Fishery management plan, and a range of concerns raised by trawler operators, particularly in North Queensland but indeed in other parts of Australia. Those allegations were brought to my attention quite some time ago. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry, Science and Resources was no doubt referring to those sorts of allegations in his comments. I have provided the necessary information to my department for examination. At their suggestion, I wrote to the relevant parties and offered, if they were prepared to provide details of their allegations, to refer them to the Federal Police for examination. No information was forthcoming and so, in that regard, I consider the matter closed.