1 year ago




100 SENATE Tuesday, 14 February 2017 diagnosis means she will be unable to maintain her workload. She has decided her resignation would be the best course of action for the benefit of her constituents, and that will bring on a by-election. The airwaves on the Central Coast today were full of gracious wishes and praise for Kathy's work, as parliamentarians from both sides of the political divide called in, as I did this morning, to offer support and recognise her powerful advocacy. Her boss, NSW Labor leader, Luke Foley, acknowledged Kathy Smith's spirit and outlook, saying: With her resignation we are losing a remarkable, resilient and admirable woman, mother and colleague. Her spirit and outlook will be missed around Parliament and important though her work here was she has a much bigger battle ahead. Please give her your best thoughts, and prayers. She and her family will get strength from that. I can only concur with Mr Foley's sentiments. I also want to put on the record a very important event that happened on Friday evening. I know that people think of St Patrick's Day as the big day of Irish celebration, but the Irish have a second patron saint: a woman, St Brigid, whose feast day is 1 February. This event on Friday evening recognised 12 remarkable Irish-Australian women from the community who are also very active in the Labor movement and the union movement. We were very pleased to receive notification of support for that event from Sabina Higgins—the equivalent of the first lady of Ireland, as the wife of Michael D Higgins—who wrote about the important place that St Brigid holds in terms of women who take action with compassion and practical action to support the community. This is what all these women that we awarded really demonstrated. I would like to particularly acknowledge the lifetime achievement award, which this year went to Janice Currie- Henderson. She was a founding member of the Australian Irish Dancing Association Incorporated, which celebrates 50 years this year. She has taught Irish dancing for 57 years and was instrumental in establishing the Australian Irish Dancing Association. She has been the president of the Australian Irish Dancing Association many times and she has danced with her students all over Sydney and New South Wales, bringing joy to so many and sharing Irish culture right across that 57-year career. We also awarded, posthumously, a remarkable Australian by the name of Bridget Whelan OAM. Bridget was a senior adviser to a number of Labor state and federal ministers and made a profound contribution, shifting from her work as a lawyer in the private sphere to serving the public through the Labor Party. When she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2010, Bridget turned her incredible skillset to advocacy for the cause of ovarian cancer. Her award was received by John Whelan. We had a community hero category and, for the first time, we were able to acknowledge people who may or may not be members of the Labor Party but certainly make a fantastic civic contribution. I want to acknowledge and put on the record the contribution of Una Champion, from the Macarthur area, a nurse and midwife who not only contributed to Irish culture in the area but was also a significant investigator in research projects to identify the needs of young people in custody. Eileen Donaghey, the famous owner of the Irish restaurant in the middle of the city known as Mulligans, is a wonderful champion for Variety, having raised over $125,000 for that cause. Dr Marie Leech was awarded for her contribution to the Aisling Society of Sydney. She has made a great contribution to the academic life of this country and to the sharing of literature. And Louise Nealon, a founding member of Irish YesEquality Australia, was awarded for her significant contribution. I also acknowledge other awardees at the evening, including Maura Chambers, who comes from Lismore and made a tremendous contribution and who has a great interest in Indigenous affairs; Carmel Cook, who joined in 1986 and has been a passionate and powerful advocate for community benefit; Deirdre Grusovin AM, a former member of the NSW Legislative Council, who held several significant offices and ministries; Coral Levett, a registered nurse for 33 years and a very significant leader of the union movement and former president of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation; Sheila Nolan from the SDA for organising and supporting workers; and Celine Smullen. (Time expired) Tasmania: Aquaculture Industry Senator WHISH-WILSON (Tasmania) (21:22): Last week, Australia's second largest salmon farming company, Huon Aquaculture, initiated legal proceedings against the Tasmanian government for failing to protect the environment in the World Heritage-listed area in Macquarie Harbour. These unprecedented legal actions were filed in the Federal Court and in Tasmania's Supreme Court. Huon Aquaculture—and I will say it again: the second largest aquaculture company in this country that employs 600 Tasmanians—claims the industry regulator, the Environment Protection Authority and the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment—DPIPWE—have failed to manage and protect the environment in Macquarie Harbour, with the government allowing companies to intensively farm salmon in numbers far greater than the harbour can sustain. This is extraordinary, and it is unprecedented—that a public company is actually launching legal action; for a government not doing its job; for a government not regulating the industry. How many companies go to the extent CHAMBER

Tuesday, 14 February 2017 SENATE 101 of asking for more regulation, let alone launching a legal proceedings against both the state and federal government for not doing their jobs? As I understand it, this is unprecedented; it has never happened in Tasmanian Supreme Court history before. So while that is novel, what is actually behind this, unfortunately, is a sad Tasmanian story. It is a story of history repeating itself—a story of cronyism and of governments getting too close to business and not doing their jobs of providing the checks and balances that are needed to protect the environment, communities and, ultimately, the future of workers and the reputation and brand of my state in Tasmania. The forestry industry went down this road. My road to parliament was all about watching: a powerful CEO of a large corporation getting his way in Tasmania; the Tasmanian Premier and ministers being summoned at his beck and call; the government allowing a company to write its own legislation for a pulp mill. This has been very well documented. I recommend people read Professor Quentin Beresford's book, The Rise and Fall of Gunns Ltd. And it is not just forestry; it is happened in other industries in the past—for example, around the power of hydro—and in mining in areas like the north-west of the Tarkine. The question is: why? Why is the salmon industry, a successful industry in Tasmania that employs a lot of Tasmanians, now in open conflict and open warfare? The answer is simple: a government is not doing its job. The more important question is: why isn't the government doing its job? And I will tell you what: I am frustrated and I am angry because, 18 months ago, I tabled some leaked documents at an adjournment speech in here and I stood up and said, 'We need to have a Senate inquiry into this issue. The federal government needs to step in, the Senate needs to step in and sort this issue out for the sake of the industry, as well as the environment.' We had a chance in the Senate to actually shine some light on what were emerging as serious problems based on the leaked information that was given to the Greens. But, unfortunately, history shows that a lot of that Senate inquiry was a whitewash. A lot of the evidence provided from a number of the expert witnesses turned out to be either ignorantly false or wilfully misleading and deceptive. And things have gotten worse. We had a chance to actually fix the situation, but, instead, what we got was a cover-up. And what does the Tasmanian government do when they are in a situation when suddenly they are coming under attack—and, by the way, from not the Greens and the environment movement but within the industry itself? What do they do? They pass this off as competitive pressures. 'These are competitive tensions between salmon companies.' That is patently untrue. This is about special deals for special mates in Tasmania. So I am going to name this up. This is about one CEO of Tassal, Mark Ryan, and his relationship with the Tasmanian government—his very close relationship with the Tasmanian government. These allegations are not just being made by me. Read the leaked documents that made their way to the media last week about accusations from other salmon companies that this industry has been regulated for Tassal—that this industry is being regulated for one company; that it is regulatory capture. Why, for example, was Tassal given special stocking densities in Macquarie Harbour that other companies were not given? The letters exposed on Four Corners quite showed that Tassal has been given the most favourable farming rates despite Tassal having the worst environment record in Macquarie Harbour. The letters exposed that Tassal was issued with 14 non-compliance notices in September 2016, up from three notices in May. The other companies had a couple of non-compliance notices over that period. And I keep in mind that Tassal's lease is also located closest to the World Heritage Area. Why were they given stocking densities up to three times the other leases for the other companies in Macquarie Harbour? Why, when, finally, after 18 months of us talking about this issue to try to get some transparency from the government, were they given three months to de-stock their leases? Apparently, the EPA has came out and said, 'It's for commercial considerations. We let them de-stock that lease for three months for commercial considerations.' Since when does an Environmental Protection Authority make their decisions based on commercial considerations? I can understand the Hodgman government not caring about the environment and putting dollars before the environment. That make sense to me. But is the EPA in Tasmania ultimately independent? Is the EPA in Tasmania independent like it was supposed to be? This was a Greens recommendation—that the EPA be put in charge of regulating the Tasmanian salmon industry. That needs to be substantiated. Exactly what is independence, and how is this process working? I ask that because it is not working. We have an industry that is openly split. We have an industry participant who is suing both the state and federal governments for not doing their jobs. We have damage being done to the Tasmanian brand. We have workers' jobs on the line here if we do not fix it. The Tasmanian government needs to move beyond cronyism. It needs to move beyond giving big business whatever they want and to actually do its job. There are 600 workers working for Huon Aquaculture, a very important company that is making a stand because it actually wants its leases in Macquarie Harbour to be CHAMBER

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