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Govt pursues vendetta against oyster farmers

Phil Heatley MP National Fisheries Spokesman

05 March 2003

Govt pursues vendetta against oyster farmers

The Government's admitted today that it's set to continue the vendetta against the out of work oyster farmers of Waikare Inlet, billing them to clean-up a mess caused by some-one else's pollution.

The admission came during Parliamentary questions asked by National Fisheries spokesman Phil Heatley.

The farmers have been unable to harvest oysters for more than 18 months because of pollution in the Waikare Inlet.

"Now they could lose the farms they've spent years developing and may also be billed up to two and a half million dollars to clean them up," says Mr Heatley.

"Adding insult to injury, the Fisheries Minister said today they could start testing pollution levels in the Waikare Inlet again - but they'll have to pay for that too.

"It's worth remembering the reason these farms were shut-down in the first instance was because of some-one else's pollution.

"Now, because they can't afford to maintain the farms the Fisheries Ministry says their leases are at stake.

"Clearly this is a Government that's not afraid to kick a man when he's down," Mr Heatley says.

"Instead of helping these small businessmen through their crisis Pete Hodgson's answer is to threaten forfeiture and make them pay $2.5 million to clean up someone else's mess.

"It's certainly not a fair arrangement and that appears to be something the Fisheries Minister is comfortable with," Mr Heatley says. Ends

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