Defiant minister says Cronulla Fisheries closure will go ahead

NSW PRIMARY Industries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson has told an inquiry in to the Cronulla Fisheries Reserach Centre closure that its functions will still be shifted to regional NSW – regardless of the inquiry’s findings.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports a defiant Ms Hodgkinson declared “these relocations will be going ahead” at a parliamentary committee in Sydney, shocking Cronulla Fisheries staff seated in the public gallery.

The controversial relocation is being undertaken as part of the state government’s commitment to decentralise services to regional NSW and has caused anger among the more than 100 affected Cronulla staff who are opposed to moving to Port Stephens, Nowra and Coffs Harbour.

An upper house inquiry has been set up to investigate the controversial decision, but according to the minister its recommendations will be ignored.

“The decision of the government and the decentralisation will be proceeding regardless of the recommendations made by this committee,” Ms Hodgkinson told the inquiry.

“This decision is a very good one. It is in the best interests of NSW. It complies entirely with government policy and election commitments that were made in the lead up to the election.

“It is expected of us to do things for regional NSW, and not just cop out because of various opposition from various quarters.”

Ms Hodgkinson has denied claims the government simply wanted to close the Cronulla Fisheries centre so it could sell off the waterfront site. She also tabled a cost-benefit analysis which was only completed hours before the hearing – 12 months after the decision to relocate the facility was publicly announced.

Decentralisation would save $4.4 million over 20 years, she said.

“This has never been about selling the site; it has never been about making a profit for the government,” Ms Hodgkinson said.

“It is all about getting jobs into regional locations.

“There has been no contemplation by myself as the minister to do anything for this site other than consult with the community for the future best use of this site.”

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