The Nationals WA have called on the Federal Government to help WA fishing and agriculture industries re-engage with key export markets emerging from the COVID-19 crisis.
Leader Mia Davies and Member for Geraldton Ian Blayney have written to Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack seeking Commonwealth funding for dedicated charter flights to freight agrifood, fibre and fisheries produce overseas.
“There are signs a recovery from coronavirus is on the horizon within some of WA’s most important trading partners but there are concerns among regional businesses about the ability to kick-start their export programs,” Ms Davies said.
“In consultation with those industries we contacted the Deputy Prime Minister to ask the Federal Government to underwrite dedicated charter flights for freight and to assist with additional requirements due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“These industries are high value exporters who will play a critical role in reinvigorating the Australian economy when we come out of the other side of this unprecedented crisis.”
Mr Blayney, The Nationals WA fisheries spokesperson, said Western Rock Lobster fishers, particularly those operating out of Geraldton and the Mid West coast, were confident restaurants in China and Japan were poised to recommence ordering WA produce.
“In the Federal Government’s $17.6 billion stimulus package announced this month, the Prime Minister unveiled a $1 billion fund aimed at ensuring recovery in regions and industries significantly impacted by COVID-19,” he said.
“During his speech the Prime Minister specifically mentioned Geraldton and the lobster industry as being examples of a region and industry needing help.
“By contacting the Deputy Prime Minister, who visited Geraldton last month to talk to fishers impacted by coronavirus restrictions, it is hoped we can obtain the Federal assistance needed to re-establish our valuable export industries.”
Member for Warren-Blackwood Terry Redman has been contacted by abalone fishers concerned about the COVID-19 restrictions and restrictions preventing their ability to get produce to international buyers.
“Our lobster, pearling, prawn, scallops, abalone and finfish industries have, like so many WA businesses, been severely affected due to the inability to export their goods in recent months,” said Mr Redman.
“These high-value primary producers inject $550 million into the WA economy and need encouragement and support to re-engage with overseas markets and restore interrupted supply chains.”