SUBJECT/S: Senate motion relating to the Geelong Star

JOEL FITZGIBBON, SHADOW MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES AND FORESTRY:  Today I am joined by my Tasmanian colleagues to announce that in the Senate this afternoon, the Labor Party will vote to reinstate the night time fishing ban on the trawler, the Geelong Star.  This will be very disappointing to the company involved, but the Turnbull Government has failed to act to put in place the proper rounds of public consultation and to respond to the expert panel’s report to ensure that the broader community can be reassured that mid-trawlers the size of the Geelong Star with refrigeration capacity, can fish in our pelagic fisheries without threats to the sustainability of those fisheries and indeed threats to our marine environment more generally.

When the former Labor Government banned the super trawlers for two years, it put in place a requirement that an expert panel review take place to look at the future of the sector.  That report was delivered to the new government in October of 2014, yet the Government has been sitting on that report ever since. The panel said there was still some unanswered questions involving the risks of the sub-trawlers and proper risk management programs would have to be put in place if they were to be fishing sustainably.

Since then, no response whatsoever from the Government.  Now, we have tried other pathways to deal with this issue, including a Private Senators Bill from Senator Joe Ludwig, the former Minister, and of course the initiation of a Senate inquiry, trying to tease out of the Government a response to some of issues raised by the expert panel and indeed whether the expert panel’s concerns can be addressed in such a way as to allow night time fishing and longer term fishing prospects to continue.
So, the fate of the Geelong Star is at the hands of the Turnbull Government. There will be people disappointed. But we stand with the overwhelming majority of Australians who are really concerned about the marine environment, really concerned about the sustainability of our fishing stocks, and our environment more generally.

I thank my Tasmanian colleagues for the concern they’ve expressed on this issue and the representations they’ve made to me and other senior members of the Opposition. We will stand to protect the environment and we will continue to do so unless someone presents to the industry and to the broader community a risk management plan and a capacity to allow the big mid-trawlers to fish without any threats to our marine environment.

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