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O'Farrell must stop Fisheries closure: MPs

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NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell must reverse a decision to shut down the

Cronulla Fisheries Research Centre and consider sacking Primary Industries

Minister Katrina Hodgkinson over the debacle, members of a parliamentary

committee say.

In its scathing report, the upper house inquiry said the decision to close

the centre in southern Sydney and move jobs to regional NSW was "an example of

how not to undertake decentralisation".

The relocation, part of the government's drive to decentralise services, has

triggered anger among more than 100 Cronulla staff opposed to moving to new

headquarters in Port Stephens, Nowra and Coffs Harbour.

Inquiry chairman and parliamentary veteran Fred Nile said he had never "seen

a matter so badly handled from day one".

Mr Nile was particularly critical of the government's failure to consult with

staff and its failure to undertake "any kind of economic appraisal" before

deciding to close the centre.

A cost-benefit analysis was completed only hours before hearings in September

- 12 months after the decision to relocate the facility was publicly


"I suggest to the government they should print a manual on how they conducted

this issue and give it to public servants and say this is how you do not do it,"

he said.

"It broke almost every rule in the book. There was no consultation in any way

with the staff. There was no consultation with the chief scientist, Professor

Steve Kennelly. There was no business plan prepared.

"I believe it is so important an issue that (Mr O'Farrell) should take a role

in this now and not leave it to the minister."

Labor committee member Steve Whan described the relocation as a "political

fix" to back the government's decentralisation policy, and said Mr O'Farrell

should not "accept a minister who has been so demonstrably incompetent".

Fellow committee member, the Greens' Cate Faehrmann, also called on Mr

O'Farrell to intervene and halt the "absolutely disgraceful" relocation.

"If the minister does not reverse this decision, the premier should ask the

minister to step down from this role," Ms Faehrmann said.

Mr Nile, asked if he agreed Ms Hodgkinson should be sacked, said: "I think it

is something the premier should seriously consider."

But Ms Hodgkinson said she would ignore the committee's recommendation to

halt the research centre's closure.

"A Decade of Decentralisation... was always going to involve tough decisions

but the government has never wavered or created any public doubt about the

decision to decentralise NSW Fisheries services," she said in a statement.

Assistant Secretary of the Public Service Association, Shane O'Brien, said Mr

O'Farrell should "take responsibility and fix this".

"The staff will be relieved that finally there's been somebody prepared to

listen," he said.

"The real test for staff will be what the government does in response. If

there is no corrective action, then really it's a hollow victory."

Original report can be found HERE

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It's time for Barry O'Farrell to show some leadership. He won the unlossable election last time and probably couldn't lose the next one if he tried but the public are sick of his excuses for non action. Here he has a clear cut case of a wrong decision that is within his power to correct. The Upper House enquiry cost taxpayers of NSW dollars that he says are precious. If he can ignore their recommendations then he should have had the courage to come out early and shut it down knowing full well he was going to ignore the recommendations anyway. I know I'm not alone in saying I'm sick of the arrogance shown by politicians at a Federal and State level that can look the public in the eye and say that they know it's not what we voted for but they are going to inflict decisions on us and we are supposed to suck it up and move on. Mr O'Farrell has the chance here to stand up and show he's not just a stereotypical politican and that he can admit when the wrong decision was made and he is prepared to correct it. So Barry show us all now are you a leader or a follower?

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Here's an article in The Leader which includes a survey on wether Cronulla Fisheries should be shut. Please go and show your support for the staff and families that don't wont to have to pull kids from school and uproot families while leaving friends and relatives all so we can provide poorer Marine Research facilities at a huge cost to taxpayers of NSW.

Here's the link http://www.theleader.com.au/story/419216/cronulla-fisheries-well-barry-where-to-now/?cs=1255

Edited by boattart
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This is quite simply a disgrace and this incompetent, anti-recreational fishing minister must be sacked. It's not just the Cronulla Fisheries issue (the minister is either incompetent or corrupt here, both of which deserve sacking), but she's set us back decades since she became the fisheries minister. Sure, we had a small win with the grey nurse debacle, but nowhere near what we should have got. Now we face having our licence fees given to the shooters and fishers, the commercial sector given a greater share of the mulloway resource, an overdue bag and size review, the fishcare volunteers in turmoil, the best recreational fishing managers (those that actually fish) facing the axe, and the scientists who support the whole show being sacked. I will be writing to the Premier about this and I suggest my fellow raiders do the same.

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O'Farrell is the Graham Richardson on the NSW Liberal party - "Whatever it Takes" was the title of Richardson's book. He has introduced a raft of policies and actions that were not given the light of day prior to the election. The two ministers in charge of the portfolios that most affect we fishers, Fisheries (Katrina Hodgkinson) and Environment (Robyn Parker)are way out of their depth and need to go sooner rather than later. O'Farrels promises of transparency and all that crap in Government were just hollow words to help get elected. His backroom deals with the two "Fishers" and Shooters are a disgrace. Take a look at their website and see for yourself how much content is devoted to fishing in comparison to shooting and hunting. They rolled over on the Cronulla issue as part of a deal to get access to our national parks for their real constituency. Remember that the term Fishers was added to their party name prior to the last election in a cynical attempt to garner more votes. It worked and we have been hood-winked in my opinion. They have taken over from the nationals as the "prostitutes of politics" as the old saying used to go. :1badmood:

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