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Mr. Deputy Speaker, I am pleased to speak in support of the bill and place on the record that Tasmanian Labor supports the amendments contained within this bill.
I want to use this opportunity to outline the intention of the bill but also to place on record comments of support from Tasmanian Labor for a range of industries that are wrapped up within these amendments and highlight the potential these amendments provide for. I record my thanks for the briefing that was provided on these amendments and to bring clarity for what is a simple set of amendments that will create a massive opportunity for Tasmania and for Australia.
This provides research opportunities. It does not give a green light to immediate off-shore commercial operations. For anyone who has been watching recent conversations where there has been escalating tension and commentary in the community about our aquaculture industry in Tasmania, which Tasmanian Labor is particularly supportive of, this is not about saying that we do not support the Tasmanian salmon industry as it stands.
The Minister has outlined that this is the first step in a long process. It provides the opportunity for research for the Blue Economy CRC that will be able to contribute to future knowledge and understanding for the development of systems and processes that will provide an almost unlimited opportunity for the production of safe and nutritious proteins in the Commonwealth waters that are off the shore of Tasmania.
It will also provide opportunities for innovative farming and productive opportunities in the areas of seaweed, fin fish and other species.
These amendments provide for a number of steps. They open up the opportunity for a Tasmanian regulatory framework to apply over Commonwealth waters to provide a clear system for that research. It also brings in areas of animal welfare and biosecurity that are already contained within regulations. Further agreement is needed between the Commonwealth and the state for what areas the research will be undertaken within and then applications for proposals will need to be approved.
When I listened to the Minister's comments in his second reading speech this is really exciting. We are really behind these initiatives. It provides a massive opportunity for the brand, for the reputation and for the opportunity of Tasmania and Tasmanians that can be involved in future clever, full-time, new and innovative jobs producing premium products in new markets.
We already have an existing, exciting industry. I will reflect on a comment that the Minister made, to say that what is actually happening here… is deliberately designed to reflect the well-established robust regulatory framework that applies to marine farming in state waters. We already have an incredible industry that is world-leading. People in other countries who have been farming for much longer than us look to us for inspiration and understanding of how to maintain a globally leading industry because we have well-established, robust regulatory frameworks here.
We were concerned and disappointed and the industry was shocked when not long ago in this place it was announced that a moratorium was going to be placed and a 10-year plan introduced without any pre-consultation with the industry. At the time, the industry felt that perhaps there was a suggestion from the Government that they were not operating well and needed to have greater checks and balances. The industry says it wants to have the best regulation to match the great reputation it has. We need to take a step back and continue to celebrate the great work of an industry, particularly salmonoids, which, on the latest information available that I can find, makes the greatest contribution to the gross value of primary production in this state and also the processed food value in the state. I heard someone in the industry refer to it recently as blue food. This is the future of feeding populations around the world. We can do it from right here in Tasmania.
We already have an exceptional industry that deserves our celebration and support. It is our job in Opposition to consider any risks, negatives or where this process may have fallen down at any point. We are fully supportive of this. The only comment I could find was the consultation was quite short: two weeks for consultation. Although it is a simple series of amendments, it provides massive opportunity. Perhaps two weeks was a little under-cooked for consultation. I note that in all future steps there are consultation requirements as well. We trust that those consultation processes give ample time for people to participate and express their support or concerns with the steps.
I will read into Hansard parts from two documents from the Tasmanian Salmonid Growers Association. One when this bill was announced because it tells of the importance and status of the industry in Tasmania:
The Tasmanian Salmonid Growers Association welcomed the commitment to establish this framework for sustainable aquaculture opportunities in Commonwealth waters, identifying that, and I quote: Whether it is finfish, seaweed, shellfish, new species or integrated multitrophic farms, this provides a new frontier for responsible growth of Australian aquaculture to match the growing Australian global consumer demand for healthy farmed seafood.
The work underway by the Blue Economy CRC is providing Australian aquaculture a global advantage on bluewater offshore farming. The salmon industry in Tasmania has always been innovative in its approach, in freshwater hatcheries and sea farming.
Our industry currently operates in the world's most wild waters and we look forward to continuing to work with the Blue Economy CRC to ensure bluewater offshore operations are good for the stock, for the environment and for the workforce that they remain safe.'
I touched on earlier that is very important for this industry, and in agriculture - and we are now going into harvest season - to find people for seasonal work, part-time work, or work that comes and goes, whether it be harvesting or planting in agriculture. In our aquaculture industry, we have full-time really clever jobs in regional Tasmania. They are important jobs. Whatever we can do to continue to support the current industry - and also provide certainty for the future pathways for more and even more clever and interesting jobs in the future - is important.
From memory, at the moment, around 2000 people are directly employed in the salmon industry in Tasmania. When you take into account all the supply chain employments, there are about 12,000 Tasmanians employed in this industry, and they are spending about half a billion dollars a year in associated infrastructure and supply chain. It is critically important that opportunities like this, through these amendments, are fully taken up and are supported, because it continues to identify the importance of this industry and to also provide for the future. It is not just about salmon and the aquaculture industry.
As I understand it, the Blue Economy CRC is the only Blue Economy CRC in the world. It is incredible for me, as a member for Bass, that it is housed in Launceston - given the nature of the work they are doing, and the commercial opportunities that will spin out from it. We welcome that and are grateful for it. Given that Launceston has a great history of innovations and firsts, we know the work that will come out of the Blue Economy CRC - and its purpose and intention was, in fact, specifically for these types of activities, which is why these amendments have been brought forward.
There is enormous potential here. The minister read some comments from the national plan.
I want to read in a few comments from the Blue Economy CRC website, where it says: Taken together, Australia and New Zealand have an exclusive economic zone of over 14 million square kilometres of well-managed clean oceans that provide enormous potential to increase seafood and renewable energy production sustainably. We have wild waters.
The website goes on to say that we will need to withstand both regular and extreme weather events while being safe - because workplace safety is so important - but also economically managed and as a result of this: … Blue Economy industries of the future will require new and highly skilled workforce.
The Blue Economy CRC has been established to address these challenges and to facilitate a step change in the economic value of Australia's new Blue Economy industries. That we can create premium products into new markets is really exciting. One of those is seaweed, and it is listed in this.
I am new to the portfolio and I am new to understanding deeply. As a member of a community you can have a 'light touch' understanding of a whole lot of stuff.
I am new to some of these things, but on the potential in positive outcomes from the research in seaweed, on the Blue Economy CRC website I was able to find some information on the dollar figures globally, and I quote from their website: Worldwide, seaweed cultivation and utilisation is a multi-billion-dollar industry, yet Australasia plays little role in either. This is set to change, with growing interest in using our coastal and offshore waters to produce seaweeds that will … provide high-value products for global markets.
In preparing to close, I wanted to say that it is not an either/or here. We are not saying that this research will come to an end, that it will say all aquaculture or all activities will need to be offshore. On the Blue Economy CRC's own website, it says one of the intended outcomes of the research is that salmon aquaculture and offshore high-energy sites will be sustainable, and it allows industry to make a choice about where they farm salmon, and a pathway for industry expansion and diversification. That choice is really important. It goes to what I was saying before about the importance of this industry to Tasmania. In the last few months we have had the opportunity to visit a number of sites of our salmon industry across Tasmania.
I had the good fortune of visiting the team at the Petuna processing plant on the North-West Coast. We know they have in the pipeline a significant investment along the North-West coast, which will employ a significant number of Tasmanians in really important regional jobs. This is not about moving away from what happens now. It is about adding to and creating that choice, subject to the research showing that it can be viable and that fish welfare will be looked after. Subject to the research demonstrating that, the opportunities are limitless.
The other business that I was impressed to see, and the Minister commented on, was the fact that, being in Tasmania - and with Asians being the highest consumers of fish - it was great to recently visit BioMar in Wesley Vale and see their incredible operation - and when I was speaking to David Whyte there, hearing him comment that if BioMar was not in Tasmania, or if they did not have a facility of this kind in Australia or New Zealand, there would be no aquaculture industry in Australasia. They are providing the feed for this industry, which is leaving from Tasmania and so, we already do all these things really well here.
These amendments provide for a great opportunity into the future. Tasmanian Labor are really supportive. It is just the first of many steps. We know it provides greater certainty for the industry going forward, and continues to build up the great reputation that we have.
However, it is the first step. In order that anything can be commercialised out of this - and we are obviously hopeful and supportive that it can be - this step will inform the development of appropriate legislation, robust regulatory frameworks and administrative frameworks, both at the Commonwealth and the state level, before anything could be commercialised.
There is much work yet to be done, but to finish on a positive, just noting that there were seven submissions to the consultation. Members of industry were provided the opportunity to respond, but it is disappointing to see the contribution from the Bob Brown Foundation talk about the fact that they do not support offshore aquaculture. They do not support it inshore, and then there are all these expectations that we might be able to go on-land, or we should all take it offshore.
What we need in Tasmania is to back the industries that are backing our economy, backing our workforce and supporting both Tasmanians. As I prepare to take my seat, I put on the record Tasmanian Labor's support for these amendments, which are simple in their process, but significant in the opportunity that opens up.
I look forward to the outcomes of the research as it occurs over the years ahead, but stand here, on behalf of the Tasmanian Labor, interested in the innovative outcomes of seaweed, of finfish, or other species, but absolutely supportive of the salmon industry we have here right now in Tasmania - a great industry for Tasmania and one we should be proud of.
November 23, 2021 - 12:32pm
Video - YouTube