Cronulla Fisheries saga continues

THE seemingly endless fracas over Minister Katrina Hodgkinson’s plans to close the NSW Fisheries offices at Cronulla has taken a new tack after the local mayor claimed the decentralisation project was “wasting millions of taxpayers’ money”.

“Relocating Cronulla Fisheries staff will cost upwards of $8 million and millions on top of that in years to come,” Sutherland Mayor Carol Provan said last week.

Mayor Provan released figures claiming that relocating 22 Fisheries staff to a facility in Mosman would initially cost $5 million “plus $20,000 per person in rent”.

“That’s an ongoing charge of $440,000 per year, which is what it currently costs to run the entire Cronulla facility of 150 staff,” the mayor said.

“On top of the cost of relocating staff to Mosman is the fact that it is not ‘decentralisation’ – Mosman is not a regional centre, it is in Sydney.
“Surely the Government must realise the futility of this hugely expensive exercise and leave the 152 staff where they are – at the Cronulla Fisheries Research Centre of Excellence.”

But Minister Hodgkinon has labelled Mayor Provan’s comments as “inaccurate” and has given her local government colleague a slap on the wrist for failing to attend a briefing session on the closure plans.

The Minister has confirmed that she expects that “more than 80 per cent of positions from the Cronulla Fisheries Research Centre will be decentralised to regional locations”.
“The process is on track and proceeding well according to the original 12-18 month decentralisation time frame,” the Minister told Fisho.
“It is great to see that some staff have already moved and many others have indicated a willingness to do so.”
Twenty-two staff would stay in Sydney to work on various projects. These “expert” staffers would likely be relocated to the Sydney Institute of Marine Science (SIMS) at Mosman, the Minister said.
“(But) there will be no initial outlay of $5 million to enter a partnership with SIMS, despite Sutherland Shire Mayor Carol Provan’s inaccurate claims … Negotiations are continuing with SIMS.

“Any agreement with SIMS will reflect current commercial rental rates. Even if staff are eventually based in SIMS and require laboratory support, the cost will be significantly less than $20,000 per person.”

The Minister said Mayor Provan was last year invited to a meeting to discuss the Cronulla Fisheries decentralisation plans but “did not attend”.
“Despite this, I would encourage her to become more productively engaged in the decentralisation process for her constituency who, I’m sure, would like to see a positive future for the Cronulla site,” Minister Hodgkinson said.

Fisho will keep you up-to-date with further news on the Cronulla Fisheries situation as and when it happens.

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