WAFIC CEO Letter to Members – Meeting with Premier

I’m pleased to inform that we had some progress and good news at the Premier’s roundtable yesterday.

The meeting was a serious and somber gathering of senior Ministers, government leaders and industry executives who are trying to balance the need for financial and services support to industry while also operating in a budgetary environment that will support all Western Australians.

WAFIC’s key aims were to seek classification as an ‘Essential Service’, retain access to the resource and market through the ever-changing boundaries and to present a raft of fee-related proposals designed to help the industry shore up its cashflows through deferment or waiver of a number of fees and levies, as well as early work on recovery planning.  If access fees are deferred, an important element is a ‘health check process’, in 12 months’ time, to assess which fisheries may still be facing business critical impact, potentially requiring accrued fees to be waived.

As of yesterday, I’m pleased to now confirm that ‘a person who is employed or engaged in agricultural or primary production that requires a person to be physically present in Western Australia is now  classified as performing an Essential Service’, in accordance to the Emergency Management Act.  There are still a multitude of questions as to how this is evidenced, and whether it applies to intrastate boundaries, which WAFIC staff are working hard to find the answers to.

Recognition as an essential service is more than just a title or classification. As an essential service, the industry has special provision to overcome some of its operational challenges, such as certainty of access to fisheries and special arrangements for cross-border staff movements that would normally enforce a 14 day isolation on staff every time they crossed borders – even while at sea.

Importantly our package of proposals, which will provide valuable cashflows to seafood businesses and allow them to continue operations has been well received by WA Government at an early stage and broadly supported, subject of course to Treasury consent.

Other WAFIC proposals on relief for MSC re-certification fees and vessel pen and utility fees are being further discussed and developed, as they involve a number of other agencies and government departments.

WAFIC and DPIRD have engaged with early action on the proposals (tabled today) and I’m working closely with the Minister’s office and relevant government agencies to fast-track actions. This process is already well underway so I’ll keep you updated over coming days as details are confirmed, and we have clarity around how each proposal can be enacted.

Minister Tinley and our colleagues at DPIRD have been positive allies throughout this process and are also working hard to accelerate outcomes.

I would also like to thank all those sector body members, WAFIC Board members, and our diligent team at WAFIC who have been involved in this process.  It’s been a mammoth effort to date and we are only just at the start of the process.

This is by no means a definitive solution to what lies ahead for industry; rather a starting point from which to build- so please stand behind us as a coherent and united voice for WA’s seafood industry as we tackle new challenges arising day to day.

Importantly, look after your loved ones, stay safe and stay sane.

Best regards