The Hon. G.G. BROCK (Frome) (15:03): My question is to the Minister for Regional Development and Primary Industries. Can the minister explain the reason why he has deferred rather than waived fees for commercial fishing and aquaculture sectors for six months, and doesn’t this mean that the commercial fishers and aquaculture businesses will simply have a feedback log to pay later on 21 January 2021? With your leave, sir, and that of the house, I will further explain.
The Hon. G.G. BROCK: On 9 April, the minister issued a media release announcing a government decision to waive annual fees for the charter boat sector for six months but only deferring fees for commercial fishing and aquaculture sectors until 21 January 2021.
The Hon. T.J. WHETSTONE (Chaffey—Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development) (15:04): I thank the member for Frome for his important question. We know that all the fishing sectors have been impacted not only by the COVID-19 experience but also with the restrictions on snapper. What we saw as a support package for the fishing sector—commercial, charter and recreation—was that we’ve put significant money into deferring some of those fees and charges into the commercial sector with regard to their levies and fees.
The charter boat sector have had their fees waived. The reason that we have given the charter boat sector a fee waiving is that they have been impacted not only by the closure and the restrictions of snapper here in South Australian waters but also by the social spacing and the regulations that have been put in place for COVID-19. We have put significant money into restocking. The recreational fishing sector has also been a beneficiary, not so much in monetary terms, but what we have seen is that the restocking program is of significant importance.
All these three sectors have been promised so much by previous governments and have had little to nothing ever delivered. We are also implementing the reform of the marine scale fishing sector at the moment and looking at ways that we can bring that sector into sustainability. We know that for many, many years the previous government have seen fit to promise the reform package—never put a cent towards it. We saw the previous government put in marine park sanctuary zones that impacted on the sustainability of the commercial, recreation and charter boat industry. There has been so much goodwill lost through the lack of government action over such a long period of time, but the Marshall Liberal government is putting action into play.
We can say that not only are we supporting all sectors of the fishing industry with the reform packages that we are either delivering or developing at the moment but we are making sure that we are giving our commercial sector some level of comfort, some level of reprieve, through COVID-19. We are also making sure that we’ve got sustainable fish stocks here in South Australia. For far too long we have seen governments walk away from their responsibility, particularly those that were in the previous administration, particularly with snapper. We look at all the main species that have seen a lack of care and responsibility over a long period of time.
The Marshall Liberal government will act. We will reform. We will make our fishing sector sustainable. We will rebuild our stocks, and to do that we are working with the sector. Not only will we give them a level of support today but, should COVID-19 go on, we will again look at ways that we can give support. We have put significant money in fee relief through the snapper closure; half their fees have been waived. Now, through the COVID-19, the further half of those fees have been deferred, so they are getting a win-win, not only taking the pressure of their being able to pay those fees today but making sure that those 50 per cent of fees have already been waived.
Again, this is about sustainable fishing and it’s also keeping our fishing sector alive and sustainable and dependable because, while we are going through COVID-19, these industries will come out better and stronger at the end of the day. What I will say is that we will not shirk away from the responsibility to give every sector within the fishing industry a sense of governance and sustainability and make sure that the fishing sector is being accounted for.