Ministers a “no show” at fishing roundtable

Federal Labor Ministers this week cancelled their attendance at a Ministerial Roundtable meeting set down to discuss issues facing recreational fishing.

Representatives of recreational fishing organisations around Australia had travelled to Canberra to attend Monday’s ministerial meeting and were informed Fisheries Minister Tony Burke and Environment Minister Peter Garrett had withdrawn from the talks at the last moment. Last week’s calling of the federal election is believed to be the reason for the ministers’ non-attendance. 

“The actions by these Federal Labor Ministers are a complete disgrace,” said a Federal Coalition spokesperson for fisheries Senator Richard Colbeck.

“On June 22 Minister Burke personally promised the roundtable to recreational fishermen following their frustration with the bureaucracy and Government decision making. Today that promise has been blatantly broken.

“Today’s no show by Labor at the roundtable they promised is symbolic of their attitude to recreational fishing. They don’t understand and they don’t care.

“This was the first promised meeting of the roundtable. Both Ministers live in Sydney, less than an hour away from Canberra. There was no legitimate excuse not to front even with the election campaign underway. In fact, that makes it more important.

National spokesperson for the Boating and Fishing Council of Australia Dean Logan said in an issued statement, “It seems that rather than treat the multi-billion dollar recreational fishing and boating industry in Australia with respect, both Minister Burke and Garrett preferred to hit the election campaign trail a little too early.”

Logan continued, “On a positive note our respective sectors continued to engage raising a number of serious concerns with Senior Advisers and Departmental Officials.

“Dialogue was cordial with the main argument revolving around the need for the Government to elevate and treat the recreational and boating sector as a policy priority and with more respect.”

A spokesman for Environment Minister Peter Garrett told Fisho today, “the announcement of the election made it difficult for the Minister to attend. The Minister’s adviser represented the Minister and had a good meeting with the round table. There was some discussion of the marine bioregional planning process, and the meeting was assured that the interests of recreational fishers are being considered at every stage.

“In particular the meeting was reminded that Minister Garrett had made it clear that the marine bioregional planning process will result in a balanced mix of both multiple use areas where sustainable fishing can continue, and highly protected areas.”

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