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lobster rally

Premier must overrule Minister Kelly on rock lobster grab

Premier Mark McGowan must act immediately to avert the unfolding crisis in Western Australia’s rock lobster industry and repair the State’s reputation as a safe investment jurisdiction.

Liberal Opposition Leader Mike Nahan said the Premier would return from leave tomorrow to face an unprecedented loss of confidence among investors and business operators in WA brought about by Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly’s decision to make the State Government the biggest single rock lobster fisher in WA.

“That a Government Minister would wantonly destroy an industry, spread fear among other industries and cause banks to question future investment in our rural and primary resources industries is unbelievable,” Dr Nahan said.

“The Premier must surely see that for a Government to overnight decide to quite literally take the lion’s share of an industry that exists only because of the hard work and investment of generations of fishermen is straight out of the communist manifesto.

“Other fishing and primary industries are quaking in their boots at the prospect that their livelihood will be the next to fall to the socialist manifesto of Minister Dave Kelly.”

Dr Nahan said the current crisis was a test of the strength of the Premier to put the interests of WA ahead of the interests of the powerful left-wing unions that back Minister Kelly.

“By any measure of reckoning it is completely untenable for Mr Kelly to continue as Fisheries Minister when he has lost the total confidence of the sector,” Dr Nahan said.

“If the Premier’s first order of business tomorrow is not to reverse the Government rock lobster grab and move Minister Kelly out of the fisheries portfolio we have all the proof needed that it is the union heavyweights of the left that really run Government in WA.”

Shadow Minister for Fisheries Ian Blayney said he had never seen shock waves move through an industry like they had following Minister Kelly’s announcement that he would nationalise 17 per cent of the rock lobster catch.

“This is an industry that proved over the past decade it could restructure to an environmentally sustainable footing and effectively market its produce internationally and if Minister Kelly had bothered to sit down and talk to operators he would have found them more than willing to look at options to ensure supplies to the local market at a reasonable price point,” Mr Blayney said.