Anglers claim moral victory in wake of election

In the wake of last weekend’s federal election, anglers around Hervey Bay on the Queensland Fraser Coast are claiming responsibility for a massive swing against the Labor government.

According to Scott Mitchell, Chairman of Sunfish Fraser Coast, swings to both Paul Neville and Warren Truss in Hinkler and Wide Bay showed the depth of feeling in those electorates. The swing away from Labor candidate Belinda McNeven was the third highest in Queensland and was even larger in Hervey Bay, where McNeven was expected to have polled well.

Mitchell said a candidate survey done by Sunfish and published in Hervey Bay and Maryborough and online before the election, showed Labor was grossly out of touch with recreational fishing in the region, and did not care about the wishes of the 80,000 plus local anglers. 

More restrictions on anglers, the introduction of the Great Sandy Marine Park and the recent inshore finfish rules that placed excessive restrictions on rec anglers while still allowing commercial netting raised much anger in the Fraser Coast region.

“Labor and the Greens have continually relied on overseas lobbyists making their decisions for them on marine issues and were threatening to close vast new areas to fishing. Anglers in this region have been shafted one too many times recently.” Mitchell said.

A number of Fraser Coast candidates, including winners Paul Neville and Warren Truss, had indicated strong local support for recreational fishing in the lead up to the election. They also promised proper consultation with all stakeholders not just professional lobbyists, as well as basing their decisions on good science. Mitchell says Labor candidates refused to  answer a Sunfish questionnaire, instead relying on the party position of vastly increased no-fishing zones. He says they lost votes accordingly.

“No candidate can survive an election when 70 per cent of all households in the electorate have at least one person, a recreational angler, who could passionately oppose what they are doing.

“Sunfish and the anglers of the Fraser Coast now put those elected on notice to honour their commitments and work to improve the situation for anglers in the region.

“This election result should send a strong message to all elected and aspiring politicians: I fish and I vote!” Mitchell concluded.

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