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Coalition Calls for Suspension of Fee Increase

Sustainability Economics Politics +4 more

TASMANIA, AUSTRALIA - The Coalition has called for a moratorium on Commonwealth fisheries levies and asked the Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Minister to immediately review the fee structure set by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA).

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Coalition Fisheries Spokesman Richard Colbeck has flagged a motion which will disallow the fisheries levies tabled concurrently in the House of Representatives and the Senate on February 7.

"We take this action reluctantly but, simply put, there is no other option. The new schedule of fees and charges put up by AFMA are putting people out of business," Senator Colbeck said.

The levies are paid by fishing operators who own concessions, or permissions, to fish in Commonwealth waters.

"We have been petitioned by fishing industry representatives from across Australia in relation to increased fees which, for the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery, increased by more than 100 per cent from 2010-11 to 2011-12," Senator Colbeck said.

"The first levy instalment was due so it is crunch time for many small businesses. We know that already a considerable number of operators have handed their fishing concessions back.

"It has become a hallmark of this Labor Government to endorse fee structures that hurt small business. We have seen the same in the last two years with AQIS fees and charges.

"Each time another boat is forced out, the levies of those remaining will go up in order to meet AFMAs budget demands putting even more pressure on those remaining.

"The Coalition believes cost-sharing should be more equitable so that small businesses are not disadvantaged."

The Coalition has written to Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Minister Joe Ludwig, advising of the motion and requesting the following:

  • An immediate moratorium on fee increases
  • An immediate review of the AFMA fee structure
  • Permission for those who have been forced to hand back boat concessions to keep these concessions while these reviews are undertaken.

"Cheryl Jonkers from Lakes Entrance is just one example of how AFMAs new fees schedule is ruining small businesses," Senator Colbeck said. "Cheryl's business costs have just doubled, from $7,038 to $14,183."