Inquiry into Fisheries relocation
THE controversial decision to close the Cronulla Fisheries facility and shift government marine science jobs to regional centres like Coffs Harbour is the subject of a parliamentary inquiry.
Fisheries staff have staged a vocal campaign against the O'Farrell Government's decentralisation plans and the protest has gained the support of unions and the State Opposition.
After months of rallies, petitions and parliamentary debate, the Department of Primary Industries' Director General has responded to claims the closure is a 'money saving' decision.
Director General Dr Richard Sheldrake said there was no analysis of costs or benefits completed prior to the relocation decision and that costs would be determined later.
Shadow Minister for Primary Industries Steve Whan says the revelations provided in evidence to the Upper House Inquiry into the Cronulla decision showed once again that the process is a farce.
"I am beginning to think that the Minister just pointed at a facility in Sydney and said I need something to relocate make it that one," Mr Whan said.
"Not all regional NSW has the same need, this 'decentralisation' doesn't tick any boxes for a good decentralisation.
"Areas with low population growth need more people, high growth coastal areas like Port Stephens and Coffs Harbour need jobs not increased population," he said.
The decision was announced in October, last year by Primary Industries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson during an inspection of Coffs Harbour's National Marine Science Centre.
"I've said it before and I'll say it again, the decentralisation is going to proceed, and it will deliver great benefits for regional communities in NSW," Ms Hodgkinson said.
The relocation is aimed to benefit coastal communities with commerical fisheries research positions moved to Coffs Harbour and Port Stephens and recreational fisheries positions shifted to Nowra.