Damning report released into Cronulla Fisheries closure

AN O'Farrell government decision to close the Cronulla Fisheries Research Centre should be reversed, a parliamentary inquiry has found.

Inquiry chairman, Reverend Fred Nile, said in a foreward to the report that the decision to close the CFRC was characterised by its omissions.

"It was not underpinned by an economic appraisal, cost benefit analysis or comprehensive assessment of
any kind," he said.

"Stakeholder views on the closure were not sought. Experts within the department were excluded from providing advice on the decision itself or the management of its implementation. As a result, the decision will have serious adverse consequences for marine science and the management of the State's fisheries. 

"Although decentralisation is a worthy policy, each instance of decentralisation must be thoroughly
considered on its individual merits.

"The committee has concluded the decision to close the CFRC was imprudent and devoid of the transparency and accountability required of major government decisions.

"Therefore this decision should be reversed in the public interest as the majority of employees, particularly the scientists, wish to continue at the CFRC, including those who have already been relocated."

NSW Opposition primary industries spokesman Steve Whan called for the minister responsible for the decision, Katrina Hodgkinson, to be sacked.

"The premier must sack this incompetent minister before she inflicts even more damage on the important primary industries portfolio.

"She completely failed in her ministerial duties on the Cronulla Fisheries closure.

"The Upper House inquiry heard Ms Hodgkinson bungled the process to relocate the Cronulla Fisheries from the very start, and didn't even bother to prepare costings or a business case.

"The inquiry listened to testimony after testimony describing just how badly planned the decision was.

"Decentralisation is an important objective, but has to be done properly. In this case, it appears to have been plucked out of the air by a Minister searching for political bragging rights.

"The report's findings vindicate the Cronulla Fisheries staff and local community who have vigorously protested the disgraceful decision to close the research centre.

"The O'Farrell Government should heed the call of this report and reverse Ms Hodgkinson's decision."

Topics:  agripolitics decentralisation fred nile

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