THE federal Labor Party lost an opportunity to engage with the recreational fishing sector by fielding only two entrants to the inaugural Politician/Celebrity Fishing comp on the weekend.
Fisheries Minister Senator Joe Ludwig was the only Labor politician to compete in the tournament, opposed to seven Coalition MPs and Senators. ALP candidate Neil Reilly, who is standing for the local seat of Gilmore at the September 14 federal poll, also competed, as did his Liberal rival Ann Sudmalis.
Tournament organiser Allan Hansard said he was disappointed more Labor MPs didn’t attend. “It was absolutely fantastic to have Senator Ludwig and Mr Reilly fish the comp,” Hansard, the CEO of the Australian Tackle Trade Association (AFTA), said.
“But I would have hoped more on the Labor side might have come along as well. We wrote to every Government and Opposition MP in Canberra and followed up with phone calls. We gave them every chance to respond to our invitation and take part in this unique event.”
Hansard said AFTA organised the comp to enable federal politicians to engage with the recreational fishing community.
“About 5 million Aussies enjoy fishing, it’s an industry worth $10 billion to our economy. We really did expect more interest from the Government, especially as this is an election year.”
Tackle industry insiders have speculated as to why the Labor Government seemingly spurned the angling sector. One leading industry figure told Fisho that it was obvious that the federal Government was not interested in establishing links with the angling sector. “They obviously don’t give a stuff about us,” he said.
“Good on Joe Ludwig for coming along but the message from his colleagues is that they care more about appeasing groups like Pew than they do with working with anglers.”
Fisho understands that the Greens were invited to take part in the event but did not respond to AFTA’s letters and emails.