The state government has rejected the main recommendation of a parliamentary inquiry and will press ahead with closing Cronulla Fisheries Research Centre.
However, Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner and Minister for Primary Industries Katrina Hodgkinson gave a commitment that the site would remain in public ownership, with increased access to the public.
The government’s official response to the inquiry, released this afternoon at a time when political “bad news” is traditionally dropped, supported or partially supported 10 other recommendations by the inquiry, but none relate the centre’ survival.
Mr Stoner said 10 of the 20 scientist positions at Cronulla were expected to relocate to other centres.
Ms Hodgkinson said the relocation project, including transferring employees, equipment and establishing new office, laboratories and storage facilities began 13 months ago and was 80 per cent complete.
A separate report on future uses for the site by government-appointed consulted David Harley recommended that the site remain in public ownership, the existing buildings, with one possible exception, should remain intact in the short to medium term, and there should be no large-scale commercial or hotel development.
GOVERNMENT ''GUTLESS WONDERS'' SAYS UNION
Public Service Association assistant general secretary, Shane O’Brien, said centre staff were ‘‘devastated”.
“The timing of the announcement shows they [the government] are absolutely gutless wonders,” he said.
“If this is [Premier] Barry O’Farrell’s way of saying, ‘merry Christmas,’ we get a pretty clear picture of what he is about.”
Upper house inquiry chairman, Reverend Fred Nile, said he was told the decision had been made by state cabinet, which normally sat on Tuesday.
It appeared the government had held back the announcement until this afternoon, when people were distracted by Christmas preparations.
“I hoped they would step back a little and seriously review what an impetuous decision was obviously made,” Mr Nile said.
“If that had happened, I am sure they would have taken a lot longer to respond.
“They have destroyed a centre of excellence that was renowned throughout the world.”
Full story in Tuesday’s Leader.
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See related stories: www.theleader.com.au/story/419216/cronulla-fisheries-well-barry-where-to-now/