Tuesday 17 October 2006

MR FINCH (Rosevears) - Mr Deputy President, this disallowance motion would really put aside the views of more than 600 recreational fishers in Tasmania who were involved in the review process for the Fisheries (Rock Lobster) Rules 2006. It would instead give undue prominence to the views of the very small and, I would suggest, marginalised minority. It would also threaten the management of one of Tasmania's most important marine resources. The review process for this rule under the Living Marine Resources and Management Act 1995 was comprehensive and public consultation was extensive. In fact, the public consultation was so extensive that letters outlining the issues were sent to all recreational licence holders at two points in the review process, and that involved about 17 000 individuals. Other methods involving Service Tasmania outlets and the Internet were used to make important information accessible to all Tasmanians. Oversight of the review process has been monitored by two independent groups which have members drawn from the key interest groups from the commercial and recreational fishing sectors. The two groups have reported directly to the minister. So, it is hard to find a more thorough consultative process.
The vast majority of recreational fishers who responded supported a catch-sharing arrangement; a catch-sharing arrangement, Mr Deputy President, in which the current resource share for the recreational fishery is larger than the present catch. So, I suppose, what could be fairer than that? Recreational licence holders may take five rock lobster a day so has anybody noticed the retail price of rock lobsters in fish shops lately? To my mind, five good-sized crayfish represent a small fortune. With a proper management plan like this, Mr Deputy President, the overall size of the rock lobster fishery should continue to grow and the allowed recreational catch will in fact grow in proportion.
Mr Deputy President, I have followed the debate and been part of the committee that has heard submissions from those supporting the Fisheries (Rock Lobster) Rules 2006 and those opposing the rules. Honourable members are well aware that the Subordinate Legislation Committee supported the rules as examined. That is, the department has complied with all the procedural requirements in drafting the rules.
Mr Dean - But did not agree with the policy.
Mr FINCH - Procedurally, there are no grounds for disallowing those rules.
Mr Harriss - By that committee, not by this House.
Mr FINCH - Mr President, I would just like to briefly recap the Subordinate Legislation Committee's role in the scrutiny process. The 1969 Subordinate Legislation Committee Act requires the rules to be considered as if they were regulations. They are to be re-examined by the committee, then they are to be laid before both Houses and then are subject to disallowance by either House. The Subordinate Legislation Committee when examining the rules must be satisfied that (a) the rules or regulations are within the regulation-making power conferred by the principal act; (b) the form or purport of the regulations/rules do not call for elucidation; (c) the regulations or rules do not unduly trespass on personal rights or liberties; (d) the regulations/rules do not unduly make rights dependent on administrative decisions and not on judicial decisions; (e) that the regulations or rules do not contain matters which should be properly dealt with by an act of parliament rather than subordinate legislation; and (f) to ensure that the requirements of the Subordinate Legislation Act 1992 are complied with.
This latter point, Mr President, is not relevant in this case as these rules were not made or approved by the Governor, nor have they been declared by the Treasurer to be subordinate legislation for the purpose of the 1992 act. As a normal course, the Subordinate Legislation Committee also requires evidence that meaningful consultation has taken place involving all stakeholders, that any fees imposed are for loss recovery only and any penalties do not exceed the maximum specified in the principal act or 20 penalty units. So, Mr Deputy President, let us consider the objections to these rules in the light of these provisions, bearing in mind of course the right of any member to move a disallowance motion based on policy or any other matters.
Section 33 of the Living Marine Resources Management Act 1995 clearly authorises the making of rules to maintain a fishery. That same section of the act makes it mandatory for the minister to consult with the relevant fishing body. That was clearly done, as I detailed earlier. These rules, despite the representations from some recreational fishers, do not unduly trespass on personal rights or liberties. In fact, Mr Deputy President, these rules do not in any way impinge on the rights and liberties of recreational rock lobster licence holders. Before these rules were gazetted, recreational licence holders could take the same amount of lobsters per day as they are now allowed under the rules.
During the consultation process the recreational body, TARFish - Tasmanian Association for Recreational Fishing - argued for a guaranteed share if the rock lobster resource should be severely depleted. This arrangement gives the recreational fishery added security at the expense of the commercial fishery. Disallowance of this rule would eliminate this concession. This arrangement, Mr Deputy President, is in the best interests of Tasmania's rock lobster fishery, of its important rock lobster commercial fishery which contributes to the State's economy and of the amateur crayfishers who want to maintain a traditional and pleasurable pastime. All these interests will be threatened if this motion is agreed to.
This rule gives the recreational fishery resource surety. Whatever the resource-sharing arrangement between industrial and recreational fishers, we know that Tasmania's overall catch must be carefully monitored and carefully managed so as not to put it at risk as one of our most valuable fishery resources. Tasmania's rock lobster fishery is one of our most valuable and, with good management, most sustainable fishery resources. It is valuable not just for the economic benefit of jobs in coastal communities and exports but also as a significant part of our heritage and recreation.
We have been, Mr Deputy President, not just the Apple Isle in the eye of many Australians but also the crayfish isle. Our crayfish fishery needs to be carefully managed to provide the benefits we would like to achieve. We know from painful experience that our rock lobsters can be overfished. Without management, this will happen again. It is a fundamental concern of all natural resource managers to control the overall harvest. This overall rock lobster catch is presently managed with the commercial catch fixed and the recreational catch managed below a scientifically monitored threshold. The new rules make the process clear. If this rule is disallowed, Mr President, the share of the rock lobster catch between recreational and commercial fishers will be determined by ministerial discretion and without recourse to Parliament.
Tasmania's rock lobster fishery is one of the best understood and best managed of our fisheries. There is a substantial research program to refine and update our understanding of the resource and the fishing pressures upon it. Methodology used to estimate the catch of the recreational fishery is based on the method that is recognised nationally and internationally as best practice. There have been, as we heard in our briefings today, biannual surveys of the fisheries in recent years with reports published and largely unchallenged. The whole recent management of our important rock lobster fishery has been a success story. Ask the commercial sector, ask recreational fishers, ask consumers who understand that Tasmanian cold ocean rock lobster is far superior to those from warmer seas.
I argue strongly, Mr President, that this rule should stand and I am confident that, in doing so, I have the support of participants in the rock lobster fishery. That is, the support of the vast majority of recreational and professional rock lobster fishers.
The Council divided -
Mr Dean
Mr Aird
Ms Forrest
Mr Finch (Teller)
Mr Harriss
Mr Hall
Mrs Jamieson
Mr Martin
Mrs Rattray-Wagner (Teller)
Mr Parkinson
Mrs Smith
Ms Ritchie
Mr Wilkinson
Ms Thorp
Mr PRESIDENT - In keeping with custom and practice, I cast my vote with the 'Noes'.
Motion so negatived.
7.15 p.m.