DEPARTMENT OF FISHERIES HUNGRY POINT RESTAURANT
(Cronulla) [5.35]: I wish to speak in relation to the Sutherland shire tourism plan and in particular to a proposal by Sutherland Shire Council to construct a restaurant on the site of the Department of Fisheries at Hungry Point. I am alarmed by this proposal because it would not serve the residents well. As I have said on a number of occasions in relation to this tourism plan, the bottom line is: will it advantage local residents? Cronulla is not a suitable destination for large numbers of overseas visitors.
It is for Sydney visitors.
As the honourable member for Sutherland said, it is suitable for Sydney visitors. That is what it is all about - making it attractive. However, traffic
congestion caused by having another restaurant in that area would not be to the benefit of the residents of Sutherland shire. It should be said that more than 100 people are employed at that Department of Fisheries site and 75 of them are Sutherland shire residents. A large proportion of the $9 million budget of that establishment is spent in the Sutherland shire. The facility is located in one of the few regions in the metropolitan area where the water is clean enough for the type of research that is carried out. In view of the state of the fisheries industry, and bearing in mind what we inherited from the previous Government, this is no time to curtail fisheries research. The research is not confined to commercial fisheries; it benefits everyone. A lot of recreational fishermen are located throughout Sutherland shire.
If Sutherland Shire Council is serious about improving facilities through the implementation of its tourism plan, it should look no further than the Cronulla mall. The original design of the mall included provision for a fountain. However, the council did not proceed with that. Mr Gordon Presland is a well-known resident of Sutherland shire. His wife Dorothy Presland died recently and was well-known for her community work. Gordon Presland should be well-known to the council because on many occasions he has filmed council celebrations and other shire functions and for many years has been the Queen's official photographer in Australia. Mr Presland has in mind the construction of a fountain in the mall, incorporating a wishing well. I am pleased to see that the Minister for Health Services Management is in the Chamber because the proceeds from that wishing well would go to Sutherland Hospital.
A fine Minister.
Yes, as the honourable member for Gosford has said, a fine Minister who has been able to defend the ambulance service and the ambulance officers who have been maligned recently. However, to return to the subject, it would be opportune for the council to give constructive consideration to the proposal. The construction of the fountain should be considered. Not only would it benefit the mall but also it would provide proceeds to Sutherland Hospital. This proposal should be given consideration instead of this rather stupid, pie in the sky scheme that will disadvantage residents of the Sutherland shire and certainly will disadvantage one of the State's great industries.
(Clarence), Minister for Natural Resources [5.40]: I thank the honourable member for Cronulla for raising this issue. It is of great concern to me - it has just been brought to my attention - that the Sutherland shire has been saying that the Fisheries Research Institute should no longer be in Cronulla. The institute is particularly important to the fishing industry. I note that the council apparently is labouring under the misapprehension that the institute is still part of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. It is not; it is the New South Wales Fisheries Research Institute. I recently visited this fine institute, where a lot of research is being done. The pens are ideally situated at Cronulla for the undertaking of research into the growing of mulloway, snapper and other fish that in future may be able to be farmed instead of being caught in the wild catches as at present. The experiments on the growing of these fish which I saw when I was there showed good results.
The site gives open access to the sea. The institute is helping the Water Board with the monitoring of chemical build-ups in fish near the outfall areas around the heads. It is an ideal site and I am very concerned that Sutherland shire should be saying that the institute might have to move. That would have very deleterious effects on the fishing industry. We are looking for more and more input into the management of fisheries. In
many areas of the State fisheries are under stress and the research at the institute is very important. There is also input from Commonwealth and other State fisheries, which adds to the knowledge of the problems associated with fisheries resources. The site is valuable because our fisheries vessels are able to tie up at the site. The buildings are aesthetic. I cannot understand why the council would contemplate pulling down such a fine research facility and putting in a restaurant. The honourable member for Albury would consider that Hungry Head was a very fine site for a restaurant. The facility is important to New South Wales and I would like to see the institute continue its operations at the site.
Mr ACTING-SPEAKER (Mr Merton):
Order! The Minister's time for speaking has expired.