Call for minister’s sacking over Cronulla Fisheries closure

A PARLIAMENTARY committee looking into the closure of the Cronulla Fisheries Research Centre says NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell should consider sacking the minister responsible, Katrina Hodgkinson.  

According to committe chairman Reverend Fred Nile, the handling of the closure ”broke every rule in the book”.

The first recommendation of the report produced by the upper house inquiry handed down yesterday is that the decision should be reversed immediately, the Sydney Morning Herald reports today.

The inquiry found the decision to close the centre and decentralise its activities to several coastal towns was made without any economic analysis, in direct conflict with the government’s own policies, and was never presented to cabinet.

A cost-benefit analysis provided to the inquiry, which had been produced a year after the decision was made, was found to be ”unprofessional” and ”rushed” and omitted a number of costs.

Mr Nile said he had never seen a matter ”so badly handled from day one”. ”I have contacted the Premier … I believe it’s so important an issue that he himself should take a role in this now and not leave it to the minister,” Mr Nile said.

Asked whether he agreed with calls by Labor and the Greens for the minister to be sacked, Mr Nile responded: ”I think it’s something the Premier should seriously consider.”

Three government MPs, two Labor MPs and two crossbench MPs were on the committee. The government MPs submitted a dissenting statement.

A research scientist at the centre, Matt Ives, said he almost cried when he heard the findings.

”This is a terrible decision,” he said. ”We’re just grateful the inquiry was able to see what we saw.”

A spokeswoman for Ms Hodgkinson yesterday ruled out reversing the decision.

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