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Friday, 11 October 1985
Page: 1056


Senator BOSWELL(9.17) —Mr President--


Senator Chipp —Do you identify yourself as a northern prawn?


Senator BOSWELL —Not by any standards. Last night before the adjournment debate we were discussing three fishing Bills cognately. The $5m self-help program which the fishing industry asked for has been granted under this legislation and, of course, the industry is very thankful for that. The main problem, as I was telling the Senate last night, is that 38 per cent of this $5m is to go towards administration costs. This is causing the industry a lot of concern.

The industry wants to be able to run its own organisation as do most other rural industries in Australia. The Australian Wheat Board, the Australian Wool Corporation and all the other rural industry boards manage their own affairs and the fishing industry wants to do so also. It believes that the best people to run their own organisations know the problems of their industry and know how to solve those problems are the fishermen themselves. I believe that the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Kerin) is moving towards that objective by organising an advisory policy council of fishermen which will advise him on the needs of the fishing industry. I hope that we will then be only a step away from organising a council to run the industry. I believe that it will be coalition policy on return to government to give the industry its own operation, its own organisation, with statutory powers to control its own affairs.

The industry is very happy with the negotiations entered into by the Department of Primary Industry on the Japanese long line operations. Of course, that has resulted in a reduction of tonnage quotas and the area where foreign boats can work is now restricted. At the same time the fishing industry is concerned about the Thai joint venture being conducted out of Darwin. The industry recognises that the Thai joint venture has to compete in the international market place and find markets for the Australian product. Most of the other fishing industries in the world-probably all of them-get some government assistance, but the Australian fishing industry, being made up of rugged individuals, is prepared to stand on its own feet. Those in the industry are prepared to contribute support levies such as those in these Bills, but it should be noted by the Minister that every other fishing industry gets some help by way of subsidised fuel and subsidised wharfage. All the great fishing industries in the world, including the Japanese fishing fleet, get government assistance, which has not been forthcoming from this Government.

I support the Bills. They are what the fishing industry has been wanting for the last 10 years. I think that the Government could have been a little more generous with terms of interest in view of the fact that it is receiving $40m from the excise on fuel that the fishing industry needs. I think that to make the fishing industry go to commercial rates of interest is unreasonable. There should be a subsidised rate of interest. However, as I said before, the fishermen wanted the legislation. They are prepared to accept it and stand on their own feet. I support the Bills.