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Baldock corrects Independent’s errors


Baldock corrects Independent’s errors

United Future fisheries spokesman Larry Baldock, responding to a grossly inaccurate report on the front page of today’s Independent business newspaper, has reiterated the party’s reasons for stopping the Fisheries Amendment Bill (No.4) from progressing through Parliament under urgency last week.

The Bill is concerned with bringing scampi into the fisheries Quota Management System.

“In its desperation for a sensational headline, the Independent has linked United Future’s actions on this Bill to the ongoing debate about the Civil Union Bill,” said Mr Baldock. “This is as fatuous as it is outrageous.”

“There are still too many uncertainties about the way the new scampi quota is allocated under this legislation. We are hearing all kinds of things from industry participants themselves about as yet unresolved problems, including alleged instances of unfairness in the way the allocation was decided.

“In addition, at the time the urgency motion was being framed, there was still a Speaker’s decision pending as to whether the allegations relating to Winston Peters – whether there is any truth to them or not – should be subject to an inquiry by the Privileges committee.

“All of this was further complicated from our perspective by the fact that United Future does not have an MP on the Primary Production select committee that conducted the scampi inquiry. Given the committee only reported back to Parliament on June 22, we were hardly in a position of having the inside running as to what was going on.

“Even the promised briefings from fisheries officials never materialised.

“Given all this, it would have been highly irresponsible for us to allow such an important issue to be progressed under urgency with the reduced levels of scrutiny the urgency process entails.

“United Future is here to ensure legislation is moderate and sensible – not to simply vote for legislation at the Government’s request without adequate scrutiny of our own.

“It is certainly not United Future’s fault that the Government’s fisheries legislation is in such a mess and falling so far behind schedule. If the decisions and accompanying details weren’t being made available on such a last-minute basis, there may well have been time for an accommodation to be reached.

“We were aware that the Government wanted to include the fisheries legislation in the urgency motion, but such matters are always subject to the agreement of our caucus and are never final until we have advised the Government in writing.

“Such an undertaking was never given and, when confronted by the uncertainty surrounding the scampi fishery, our caucus could not agree to support it,” said Mr Baldock.


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