Gippsland Lakes Fishing | October 17, 2019

Labor challenged to support Gippsland Lakes fishing licensees

Retraining and targeted support services for Gippsland Lakes fishing licensees and their employees has been demanded in State Parliament by The Nationals.

Labor’s Marine and Fisheries Bill passed through the upper house of State Parliament this week to compulsory acquire the commercial fishing licences of East Gippsland operators, putting an end to the community’s historic fishing industry.

During debate, The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region Melina Bath raised serious concerns and challenged the Minister for Fishing and Boating, Jaala Pulford calling for support for East Gippsland’s fishers and their employees.

“The Andrews Government must fund and implement an effective worker transition scheme in to support licensees, their employees and non-licence holders affected by the closure of this industry.

“It is imperative affected individuals are provided with the support and retraining they deserve and not delivered lip service by Labor.”

When challenged in State Parliament by Ms Bath to provide details of support, Minister Pulford responded saying the government had held a one day seminar for operators and employees.

Ms Bath said Minister Pulford’s response does not cut it for multi-generational businesses and their employees who no longer have an industry and will lose their job.

“The East Gippsland community is facing enormous economic and social pressures through prolonged drought and it doesn’t need more people searching for employment. 

“East Gippsland Shire Council has also identified the need for the State Government to provide a stimulus package for the Gippsland Lakes commercial fishing industry,” said Ms Bath.

“In many cases, fishing is all these people have known; they deserve proper compensation and retraining to ensure they can remain in their local community.”

Gippsland East MP, Tim Bull said, “From day one of this process I have asked that retraining be provided and job opportunities be offered to all those being forced to exit the industry to support the local economy”.

“To date it has fallen on deaf ears but it is not too late for the government to act and deal with these fishers and their families individually to assist them to move on,” he said.

“The Andrews Government has taken away the livelihood of East Gippsland fishing licensees and their employees, it has a responsibility to deliver more than a one day seminar to an industry it’s dismantled,” Ms Bath concluded.

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