Home' Ausmarine : April 2010 Contents If you are one of the 200 or so "Port Lincoln Tuna Processors"
workers joining a Centrelink queue for the dole, the Rudd
Government stimulus package is not exactly orgasmic.
While Kevin-from-heaven was massaging the building industry
and cooing in the ear of insulation and solar panel installers,
neither he nor his minister were remotely aroused by the frustrated
moans of a desperate fishing industry.
Just why our national government with stewardship of an
abundant renewable resource, offering healthy nutritional benefits
that other primary industry producers would give a right arm for,
can't get into bed with the fishing industry, to stimulate a bit of
mutually satisfying growth, leaves taxpaying fishing folk feeling
unattractive and resentful. What is shamelessly blatant about the
Rudd plan for national stimulation is the amount of pimping
that's involved. Energy and environment are sexy subjects for
politicians, fishing industry productivity isn't. It upsets the NGOs,
the bureaucracy, importers and the grant-dependent.
Reducing the crippling restrictions and administrative burden
suffered by our producers could cost votes in the looming
elections, so it is more politically prudent to tickle the fancy of the
swinging block of political activists with green preference votes
pumped up and on display.
Unfortunately for Kev and Pete, the energy stimulation was
premature and play ended early. With both an Abbot and a Bishop
delivering sermons and pointing out the sins of their stimulation, I
guess Kev and Pete can only confess and pray for forgiveness. None
of that is likely to satisfy the workers of Port Lincoln though.
OHS -- Occupational Heresy and Stupidity
Fishermen know more about hazardous work places than most.
Just how dangerous it can be was vividly revealed in some recent
TV programs on SBS. In New South Wales though, an even more
dangerous place exists if you happen to be an employer.
A recent case, that reached the high court of Australia, is
something every New South Wales boat owner and skipper should
take heed of. For a New South Wales employer the most dangerous
place to be, in the event of a work place accident resulting in a
death or injury, is a New South Wales court.
The case in question concerned a farm owner who employed a
long time friend as manager of his property. The place was well
run, with tractor, four wheel drive vehicle, quad bike, sheds and
gravel road. The manager who lived on the property decided to
drag some posts to a work site. Instead of the tractor or four wheel
drive he used the quad bike. On the way he decided to take a
shortcut down a steep incline. Tragically the quad was hit by the
towed posts, it overturned and killed the manager. The farm
owner, who was not at the property, was devastated. He had lost
not just an employee, but a long time friend. The nightmare
worsened for the farmer when, even though he had done nothing
to contribute to the accident, he was, under the work place
provisions of New South Wales, committed for trial. Under those
provisions the fact that the accident had occurred at a workplace
owned by him and his company, meant responsibility was his.
He was found guilty, fined some hundreds of thousands of
dollars (half of which went to a union) and copped a criminal
record. Of course, he sought leave to appeal to the New South
Wales Supreme Court. Leave was denied as the New South Wales
provisions did not permit an appeal given the accident was proved
to have occurred.
One and a half million of his dollars later, he managed to come
before the High Court of Australia. In a scathing judgement, the
New South Wales provisions were shown to have stripped him of
his right to trial, his right to appeal and, in essence, his human
right under the constitution. How much of the one and a half
million it cost him to prove his innocence he can now recover, I
The point is, he should never have had to prove his innocence. In
a fair trial, it's the prosecution's job to prove guilt. He was fortunate,
if that's what you call good fortune, that he could raise the funds to
fight. Not many of us could find that sort of money. Lord only
knows the stress, over the years, on his health and family.
Whether the ruling by the High Court of Australia will affect
the legislated work place provisions in New South Wales is
something for the lawyers to explain. However if I was a New
South Wales employer I would want to know pretty quickly.
It's also a lesson for those who think it's OK to sit back and let
bureaucrats and politicians mess around with your rights. If you
are not prepared to defend them, governments will amend them.
The waste gate
Those fortunate enough to have looked at the way our Asian
neighbours utilise their catch will tell you that with just a few
exceptions nothing, not a morsel, is wasted. I can't recall the term
"trash fish" being used and even "by-catch" was pretty rare.
"Discards", in some places, was met with a blank
So, if you find yourself comparing management practices
I suggest you keep pretty quiet when it comes to our method
of regulating the quota system. Waste, in some cultures, is not
simply commercial ineptitude -- if it is food, it is almost criminal
To admit that our managers not only acknowledge the
practice of dumping dead over-quota fish at sea but, in fact, insist
over-quota catch not be landed, leaves our claim to world's best
management hanging fairly limp. Especially when explaining
how our fish farmers could be gaoled for doing the same thing.
Paying management levies for quota units that have zero value
brought a smile and the sympathetic remark that, "Yes, there are
still some corrupt elements in our administration as well."
How was it for you?
A personal comment from Ulladulla's very own
Barry McRoberts on Management Matters.
April 2010 AUSMARINE
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