Last week we wrote about Western Australia’s Labor government plan to take a 17.3% slice of the local crayfish industry. That’s Australia’s most valuable fishery, by the way.
Many local fishers expressed outrage towards the plan, pointing out they were never consulted.
And Liberal leader Mike Nahan said Labor’s proposed policy is ‘like something you’d see in a third world country, nationalising assets’.
Now it looks like One Nation will ride to the rescue by blocking the controversial plan.
Ad campaign helps form a legislation block
The policy involves upping commercial catch limits to 8000 tonnes (from 6300 tonnes) and having over 1300 tonnes being kept by the state for private sector selling.
It’s an attempt to lower the local price of the crustacean and net the state millions in revenue, as the Australian Associated Press reports.
But WA’s three One Nation members halted the proposal on Friday, blocking its legislation in the upper house. The block comes after an ad campaign launched by crayfishers claimed the policy would put thousands of regional jobs and the sustainability of the industry at risk.
Further push comes from the newly launched lobby group Fishing Families, who have both fishers and processors backing the ad campaign urging the government to ‘keep your claws off our crays’.
Following these events, WA State leader of One Nation, Colin Tincknell told radio station 6PR ‘the industry wasn’t consulted well’. As such, his party will vote to support a disallowance motion.
But the party is open to further discussion, which Labor will likely have a voice in.
The debate in a crustacean shell
Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly insists that policy would be beneficial to local crayfish supply to tourists and domestic consumers.
And Labor will be sure to highlight the policy’s promise of 500 new public sector jobs and more than $27 million of funding for a body corporate and spiny lobster research institute, as AAP reports.
But convincing may not be necessary, for there is the possibility Kelly will just play the ministerial card and use exemption to force the policy forward.
Tincknell has since urged the crayfish industry to ‘keep working with the government’ in order to prevent such a reality.
It’s been 10 years since lobster breeding numbers plummeted to a four-decade low, which led the Turnbull Liberal government to place restrictions on the industry. Only now have we seen an overall bounce back.
But the new ad campaign has revealed that some fishing businesses are already having loans reviewed.
Here’s hoping One Nation can keep Labor’s hands out of the water.