Fisheries Minister Gordon Hill says Western Australia's fishing industry has been duped by the Opposition, and the proof lies in the costing of their fisheries policy released yesterday.
Mr Hill says the costing for the Opposition's fisheries policy was left blank, revealing that:
· no new funds are destined for the industry;
· no new fisheries officers should be expected and,
· the Opposition's policies are a copy of current Government initiatives.
"The Opposition's fisheries policy has been unmasked," Mr Hill said.
"Despite claiming that a Liberal Government would provide adequate numbers of fisheries officers and appropriate support for research, management and enforcement, their costing document does not detail any funds for new fisheries officers, nor for any new initiatives.
"This can only mean two things: that the Opposition never intended to provide any new officers or that it did not want to cost the promise because it would blow out their carefully constructed sums."
In the document, the Opposition's costing of its fisheries policy was left blank.
The only explanation being that its promises would be extensions of existing programs or relatively low-cost items which the Opposition expected could be accommodated within ongoing budget allocations.
In comparison, the State Government's fisheries policy provides more than $1 million for extra fisheries officers and includes incentives for innovative industries, measures to promote value-adding, and initiatives for effective management of fisheries.
Mr Hill said the costing was a clear indication of what the fishing industry would face under a Liberal Government.
"Froth and bubble rhetoric, many promises, but no new funds," he said.
"Their fisheries policy is a blatant copy of existing Government practices and they have finally revealed that no new money will be put into the industry."
Mr Hill said examples of duplication included:
· an Opposition promise to establish a Recreational Fishing Advisory Council, when the State Government had already established one in 1989;
· the Opposition's proposal to foster long-term research and development initiatives into aquaculture, when the Government had already established an Aquaculture Development Committee, streamlined licence application procedures and funded the appointment of an executive officer for the aquaculture industry;
· the Opposition's claim to increase consultation - ludicrous in light of the amount of industry consultation now under way, including management advisory committees for a number of commercial fisheries and regional recreational fishing committees providing advice to the Government.
Mr Hill said the Opposition was not only bereft of any new ideas but had duped the industry and recreational fishers into believing that more fisheries officers would be provided for, and that extra funds would be available.