No Liberal or Labor politician showed up to a community forum about Tassal’s contentious plan to expand its fish farming operations to King Island.
Around a quarter of the adults on King Island attended the forum on Friday night as local opposition to salmon farming grows.
Liberal Braddon MHAs Jeremy Rockliff, Roger Jaensch, Joan Rylah and Adam Brooks, and Labor’s Shane Broad were all invited to the forum but not one attended.
The only politician who did show up was Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, who spend two days on King Island with Greens candidate for Braddon Scott Jordan.
VIDEO OF COMMUNITY FORUM
Community group Keep King Island Fish Farm Free organised the forum and spokesman Charlie Stubbs said it was a shame no Liberal or Labor politicians turned up.
“With the growing public outcry at the pollution that fish farming is causing, we were surprised that nobody from either major political party was in attendance, especially considering this is rapidly becoming an election issue,” Mr Stubbs said.
LIBERAL AND LABOR RESPONSE
A government spokesman pointed out that Mr Brooks visited King Island last week when asked why none of the four Liberal Braddon MHAs attended the forum.
“Liberal Braddon members go to King Island regularly and have regular contact with the community to hear their views on all issues, including salmon farming,” the spokesman said.
Labor Braddon MHA Shane Broad said he planned to go to King Island shortly.
“I’ve been following this debate closely and have been in touch with both the industry and the organisers of the event both before and after the event,” he said.
“I’m keeping an open mind and will be travelling to King Island shortly.”
GREENS HIT BACK
Greens candidate Mr Jordan said the Labor and Liberal party looked like they were representing Tassal rather than the community.
“They don’t want to face the community and hear their concerns because the community has been pretty loud in their opposition,” he said.
Mr Jordan said no one at the forum was “keen to see their coastal freedoms, local environment and lifestyle impacted by a profit seeking corporation in lock step with an out of touch Hodgman Government”.
Senator Whish-Wilson said he’d met with dozens of local business and residents during his time on King Island and “not a single person supported industrial fish farming on their island”.
“There was little to no trust in this Hodgman Government's plans to make fish farm corporations more wealthy at the expense of King Island's reputation and coastal environment , or their ability or desire to properly regulate any future expansion on King Island,” Senator Whish-Wilson said.
WHERE WAS TASSAL?
Tassal hosted a community forum about its intentions for King Island back in November and invited locals to tour its existing operations facilities.
The company wasn’t invited to the Keep King Island Fish Farm Free forum but some locals suspected they’d sent representatives because three people who charted a plane to King Island showed up at the meeting.
A Tassal spokesman told The Advocate no one from the company was at the meeting because they weren’t invited.
The company’s head of engagement Barbara McGregor last month encouraged concerned King Islanders to get in touch with Tassal.
“We would encourage people to reach out to us directly so that we can provide them independent research and also data from our farming operations that is subject to a high level of regulatory compliance and the global Aquaculture Stewardship Council certification standard,” she said.
Mr Stubbs said the forum had been “fantastic” despite no Braddon MHAs turning up.
“There was such a feeling of a community combining to fight to defend something they believe in,” he said.
“There were so many offers of help.”
Mr Stubbs stressed Keep King Island Fish Farm Free was an apolitical organisation and wasn’t a platform for locals campaigning to remove the King Island Council.