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Minister to face inquiry into Cronulla Fisheries closure


April 10, 2019 by admin

The NSW Minister for Primary Industries, Katrina Hodgkinson, is to face a parliamentary inquiry into the closure of the Cronulla Fisheries Research Centre, after earlier refusing a request to appear.

She will table a cost-benefit analysis of the government decision to close and decentralise the centre next Monday, almost a year after the decision was announced.

Ms Hodgkinson initially told the inquiry chairman, the Reverand Fred Nile, she could not attend due to ministerial meetings.

Premier Barry O’Farrell appeared to criticise that decision during an interview with Alan Jones on 2GB radio last Wednesday.

“When I am invited by upper house inquiries I go,” Mr O’Farrell said.

“I expect my ministers to go.”

The Premier’s office declined to say whether he had directed Ms Hodgkinson to go to the inquiry, but a spokeswoman for Ms Hodgkinson said this was not the case.

“The reason for her appearance is to table the cost-benefit analysis of the decentralisation of the Cronulla Fisheries site,” said Ms Hodgkinson’s spokeswoman.

“The minister has not been directed by the Premier to attend the inquiry.”

The Herald revealed the decision to close the Cronulla Fisheries Research Centre, announced on September 8 last year, was made without a business case, costings or cabinet submission.

A number of staff members gave evidence at the penultimate hearing of the inquiry yesterday.

Peter Brown said more than half of the staff at the centre were classified as temporary, and were receiving severance payments up to 70 per cent less than they would have before the introduction of the government’s stricter excess employees policy, which came in to effect shortly before the decision on Cronulla was announced.

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