O’Farrell accused of hiking licence fees to fund Crown road closures

RECREATIONAL fishers will be forced to pay more for their fishing licences, after the O’Farrell Government approved a 20 per cent hike in licence fees.

The move will also see the money raised from recreational fishing licence fees diverted from relevant recreational fishing programs to bolster government revenue for the Crown Lands program.

Shadow Minister for Fisheries Steve Whan said Minister Katrina Hodgkinson and Andrew Stoner had been caught out diverting fishing licence fees to pay the costs of the Government’s Crown Lands Roads Disposal Program.

“Recreational fishers pay fishing license fees to assist with the development of recreational fishing including facilities for fishing, fish stocking and research, artificial reefs and so on – not to bolster Government revenue,” Mr Whan said.

“Under Labor, recreational fishers always knew the money was reserved for the benefit of fishing.

“Now the Minister is about to give a grant from the recreational fishing trust of $122,403 to employ a Fisheries Management Officer whose job will be to assess the impact on fishing of road closure applications associated with the Crown Lands Road Disposal Program.

“The Government’s accelerated Crown Road disposal program has caused concerns for anglers and there is a strong need for those land sales that could impact on access to fishing spots to be carefully assessed – however the funds to undertake that assessment should not be provided by recreational anglers.

“The Treasury will make significant profits from the sale of crown roads and it should fund the full costs of the process from within that revenue stream.

“The Government has also confirmed it is not reimbursing the cost for Fisheries staff who are spending their time assessing applications to close crown roads. That means recreational fishing trust funds, as well as an unknown amount of Fisheries Department funds, are being spent to bolster the return to NSW Treasury from the sale of crown land.

“When Labor introduced recreational fishing license fees it did so with the strong support of anglers, because anglers had the guarantee that 100 per cent of the money would benefit recreational fishing.

“In the last few weeks we have seen Minister Hodgkinson quietly approve this 20 per cent increase in fishing license fees.

“It is another slap in the face for recreational fishers to now find out their fees are being used to bolster the Government’s revenues from land sales.”

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