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Wednesday, 13 November 1974
Page: 2305

Senator MARRIOTT (TASMANIA) - Has the Minister for Agriculture any comments to make on the criticism understandably expressed by the Tasmanian Minister for Fisheries, Mr Costello, about the steep increases imposed by the Australian Government in fees for fishing boats? Are the increases, as Mr Costello said at the weekend, a direct contravention of an agreement between the Australian States and the Commonwealth? Can the fishermen, the people principally concerned, hope for any review of the suggested charges?

Senator WRIEDT -I do not think that there is any foundation for that criticism when one bears in mind that the licence fees and other charges in this regard have not been increased since 1954. The charges have remained static for 20 years. At the Australian Fisheries Council meeting in 1972 the States suggested that they should receive additional reimbursement for the services that they rendered to the Australian Government. The representatives of the Australian Government at that meeting were in agreement with this provided that there could be a commensurate increase in the fees charged by the Federal Government of the day. No decision had been taken by the time we came to office. But since then I have looked at the position and I think it is reasonable that those fees be increased. The cost to the Australian Government in connection with this matter during 1973-74 was $280,000 and this year it will be close to $400,000. The fee charged for a 15-metre fishing boat was $4 a year. I do not think it is reasonable for anyone to suggest that $4 is an adequate licence fee for a 15-metre fishing boat. Under the new proposals, the licence fee will be increased to $20 a year. Even at this rate, the fee will still be cheaper than that charged for the registration of a motor vehicle.

I think it should be pointed out also that the Tasmanian Government charges a fee of $30 for the licensing of a boat and the New South Wales Government charges $40. So I think it is only reasonable that the Australian Government ought to be allowed to increase those fees to an amount which is commensurate with the costs that are incurred by it in these matters. I add one last comment: Even after the increase, the fees, will bring in only about $180,000. In other words, the Federal Government will still not be collecting anything like the amount that it costs the Government.

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