The State’s aquaculture industry will be more competitive and more jobs could be created, with a new Queensland Competition Authority (QCA) study examining how to cut Labor’s business strangling red tape.
Assistant Minister for Finance, Administration and Regulatory Reform, Deb Frecklington said aquaculture, such as prawn or barramundi farming, was a potential growth sector for Queensland.
Mrs Frecklington toured one of the state’s biggest prawn farms today, to hear firsthand about the regulatory barriers facing their operations on the Gold Coast.
“We are delivering on our election promise to grow agriculture as one of the four pillars of the economy and related industries like aquaculture are essential to this,” Mrs Frecklington said.
“Removing pointless red tape regulations, which may be stifling growth, is the first step in ensuring our farmers are able to compete on a national and international scale.
“The former Labor government clearly didn’t understand the importance of this industry to Queensland’s economy.
“We’re committed to doubling Queensland’s food production by 2040 and this study is an important part of finding ways to drive jobs and economic growth in regional areas of the state.
Australian Prawn Farmers Association Executive Officer Helen Jenkins said her members were heartened and hopeful about the QCA study’s outcome.
“A probe into what is preventing the prawn farm industry from expanding in Queensland is well and truly overdue,” Ms Jenkins said.
“Ten years ago the Productivity Commission said aquaculture production was subject to an unnecessarily complex array of legislation and agencies and since then the problem has only gotten worse.
“In the north and far north of the state the problem is acute and expansion plans for prawn farms were stopped in their tracks by the former Federal Government.”
Mrs Frecklington said there had been no major aquaculture developments in Queensland for more than 10 years, at a time when the sector was showing significant growth in the rest of Australia.
“Tasmania’s aquaculture production has grown by around 14 per cent each year, while Queensland’s has only grown at about 4 per cent,” she said.
“Early indications show there is strong potential for significant aquaculture development in Queensland, but regulatory barriers and other impediments are currently holding back this growth.
“The Queensland Government is working every day to ensure Queensland remains the best place in Australia for businesses to invest, employ and grow.
“Through our determination to reduce red tape, this CanDo Government is making it easier for business to focus on doing what they do best – creating jobs and growing the Queensland economy.
She said the QCA was now looking for feedback from industry representatives and interested parties, to help develop recommendations which would expand Queensland’s aquaculture sector while balancing environmental protections.
A draft report will be released for public comment in May, with the final report set to be provided to Government in September 2014.