Williamtown fishing ban lifted, now what?

News that commercial fishing in Fullerton Cove and Tilligerry Creek is set to resume following the RAAF Base Williamtown contamination will come as a welcome relief to the many fishers experiencing hardship due to the ban.

Communities have suffered stress and uncertainty over the Turnbull Government’s slow and uncoordinated response to the chemical contamination.

These restrictions on fishing have caused financial and reputation damage to local industry for more than a year.

The local fishing cooperative has also seen large drops in yearly revenue as a result of the ban. The flow-on effects of the contamination and subsequent testing are substantial.

Yet the only help the Turnbull Government has provided to local fishers who waited for restrictions to be lifted are income support payments at the same rate as the Newstart Allowance.

The Federal Government has a responsibility to support residents and businesses affected by chemical contamination of RAAF Base Williamtown.

Supporting residents of Williamtown means developing and applying nationally consistent health guidelines, offering blood tests, helping connect homes to town water and extending income support to beyond the end of the 2017 fishing season.

But instead of supporting Williamtown residents, the Turnbull Government just conducts reviews of its own reviews.

Labor calls on the Turnbull Government to clarify how it intends to support fishers who have been without commercial income since September 2015.

The community deserves to know when the Turnbull Government will stop delaying and start delivering.


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