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Government's ongoing fisheries failures to hurt consumers as fish and chips prices set to rise

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Senator the Hon. Jonno Duniam Shadow Minister for the Environment, Fisheries and Forestry Liberal Senator for Tasmania

Senator Susan McDonald

Shadow Minister for Resources and Northern Australia LNP Senator for Queensland

25 October 2023

Government’s ongoing fisheries failures to hurt consumers as fish and chips prices set to rise

Senator Murray Wat’s impotence as a Cabinet Minister and indifference for stakeholders even in his own por�olios has crashed to a new low following a Senate Es�mates hearing in Canberra.

Asked a succession of ques�ons late on Tuesday about the Albanese Government’s cave-in to UNESCO’s demand to install a ban on gillnet fishing, Senator Wat couldn’t even recall if he had voiced concern with Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek over the ban’s impacts on the regional Queensland fishers that he supposedly represents.

He even argued that his Department had “no responsibility” over the ban and its effect on Commonwealth fisheries.

Shadow Environment and Fisheries Minister Senator Jonno Duniam said:

“As Fisheries Minister, Mr Wat is meant to provide a counterweight to Ms Plibersek’s hard -le� ideological ins�ncts, but he con�nually fails to put up even one iota of a fight for the industries and communi�es he is meant to serve.”

“This is despite the fact that the gillnets ban is already turning into one of the most consequen�al and devasta�ng decisions in memory for Australia’s commercial fishing industry.”

Shadow Minister for Northern Australia, Senator Susan McDonald, said she was shocked when the hearings revealed the Federal Environment Minister and the Fisheries Minister had not sought advice on banning gillnets from the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) or the Fisheries Research and Development Corpora�on (FRDC) before a leter was sent to UNESCO announcing the bans.

This is even though the FRDC’s 2020 Stock Assessment Report showed popula�ons of net-caught species barramundi and grey mackerel are “sustainable”.

She said banning nets would increase costs of seafood and be a hammer blow to already-stretched household budgets.

“It is clear that the Federal and Queensland Labor Governments have colluded on fisheries management without advice from the two federal bodies specifically tasked with researching and advising on such maters,” she said.

“The Minister has simply taken the word of Queensland Labor - whose fishing taskforce is headed by an environmental ac�vist - that commercial net fishing has to go and pledged federal support for it.

“It’s beggars belief that a Federal Minister would act so rashly to sign off on the decima�on of Queensland’s commercial fishery without seeking the advice of AFMA and the FRDC.

“Furthermore, the Federal Fisheries Minister - a Queensland Senator - refused to answer ques�ons about the devasta�on fishers in his own state are facing under this plan which will increase costs of seafood and hurt Australian families already burdened by a cost of living crisis.

“I am appalled and angry that such a serious issue has been has�ly endorsed with zero consulta�on and no regard for the welfare of fishers or the finances of people who can’t catch their own fish.”

“Queensland and Federal Labor are doing the bidding of ac�vists and ignoring Australian families trying to put food on the table.”


Media contact Senator Duniam: Will Calvert-Jones - - 0400 144 366 Senator McDonald: Julian Tomlinson - - 0421 059 187