Liberal Party candidate Jaimie Abbott has promised an immediate review of the Port Stephens Great Lakes Marine Park if she is elected State MP for Port Stephens at the March 23 election.
Ms Abbott said that the new commitment came after a meeting with key industry stakeholders in Port Stephens on Monday, though it has left Port Stephens MP Kate Washington asking ‘why it can’t start right now?’.
Previously, the Minister had announced a review “within two years of re-election”. State Labor is promising a review within 12 months of forming government.
The Port Stephens Great Lakes marine park was established in 2007, but a promised review within the first five years has never eventuated.
“My first priority if elected will be to assemble all stakeholders and commence immediately the long overdue review,” Ms Abbott announced on Tuesday.
“People need certainty. I have made a commitment to put myself out there from day one and I have the full support of the government.”
Ms Abbott said all stakeholders would be invited, including commercial and recreational fishermen, tourist and business owners, environmentalists, conservationists, scientists, “anyone with an interest”.
Labor’s Ms Washington said she was surprised to hear how the government could commence the review one day after the election, but can’t start it right now.
“They’ve had since 2012 to commence the scheduled review, and for seven years they have chosen not to,” Ms Washington said.
“After hearing the frustration of local fishers over a number of years, I secured a commitment from Labor last October that we would initiate the review within 12 months.
“The Minister has said within two years, so it’s unclear what exactly is being promised by the Liberal candidate.”
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