Fisheries staff protest Coffs move
SYDNEY NSW Fisheries staff told to relocate to regional centres such as Coffs Harbour have protested outside State Parliament, slamming government moves to close the Cronulla fisheries research centre.
Primary Industries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson says the centre will be shut down as planned, and its functions moved to Coffs Harbour, Nowra and Port Stephens, despite continued opposition from staff.
Ms Hodgkinson's comments in State Parliament came as 100 workers from the centre rallied in Macquarie Street on Thursday against the controversial proposed announced by the minister in Coffs Harbour last year.
The Cronulla fisheries closure is part of the government's decentralisation policy.
"I'm not interested in taking the hard-working staff of the Cronulla Fisheries Research Centre on a wild goose chase," Ms Hodgkinson said in parliamentary question time.
"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.
"This project is going to proceed," she said.
Opposition leader John Robertson said there was no reason to close the centre.
"What we've got is a decision made by the O'Farrell government that ignores all the science," Mr Robertson told the rally.
"It's not interested in science, it's not interested in reason, it's not interested in logic, it's simply interested in making ideological decisions.
NSW Greens MP Cate Faehrmann said the decision was politically motivated.
"There is no business case for this decision, no economic case, no justification for this decision whatsoever," Ms Faehrmann told the protestors.
Staff at the centre say they have not been able to secure a meeting with Ms Hodgkinson, despite submitting an 18,600-name petition against the plan.
Ms Hodgkinson hit back on Thursday, saying she had consulted extensively.
"Employees at Cronulla have had ample opportunity to voice their concerns to me through various channels," she said.
During her October visit, the minister told the Coffs Coast Advocate, 16 commercial fisheries jobs would be relocated to Coffs Harbour, recreational fisheries jobs would move to Port Stephens and NSW Fisheries' policy positions would shift to Nowra.