It’s one thing for the government to tax your business. It’s a whole different ballgame for the government to claim a slice of your business as its own.
Yet that’s just what Western Australia’s Labor government would like to do with the local crayfish industry.
The government has proposed it take a 17.3% stake in Australia’s most lucrative fishing industry while upping annual commercial catch limits from 6,000 to 8,000 tonnes.
WA’s crayfish industry is the most valuable fishery in Australia — being named the world’s first ecologically sustainable fishery in 2001.
If the scheme eventuates, previous reductions to catch allowances of 5,500 tonnes (based on 40-year low breeding reports) made by former liberal government in 2009, will be dashed.
The scheme will set aside 1,350 tonnes for the state to lease to the private sector for added revenue.
The lobster industry is outraged
Naturally there was outrage from the industry, with Liberal leader Mike Nahan telling reporters the policy was ‘like something you’d see in a third world country, nationalising assets’.
‘We are not an African State’ he added.
If the policy reaches the upper house, Dr Nahan is urging crossbenches to vote it down.
Western Rock Lobster Council chief executive Matt Taylor said industry came up with its counter proposal, to be given to Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly in a few weeks, as reported by the AAP.
Mr Taylor gave footing to crayfishes shocked by the government’s plan, adding the government’s intervention as ‘unprecedented’ in primary industries.
‘We believe government exists to support industry, not to undermine and then compete with it,’ he said.
After a month of launching the policy, Mr Kelly said these tweaks would ‘significantly increase’ local crayfish supply for the tourism industry and domestic consumers, as reported by the AAP.
The labour package which will be rolled out over the next five years, is promising new public sector jobs as well as $27.5 million in funding for a body corporate and spiny lobster research institute.
Mr Taylor says the industry’s proposal includes the same requests but with its own revenue stream and minus the cash injection.
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