Vice President RFAExecutive officer position bogged down in bureaucracy
Two years ago, in August 2014, the RFA of NSW sent a proposal to Fisheries NSW that NSW recreational fishers needed a paid executive officer to represent them in consultation with the government and with non-government bodies. NSW is the only state that does not have someone in that role. A few weeks later the proposal was considered and recommended by meetings of the two committees that advise the government on how to spend money raised by the NSW fishing licence fees: the Recreational Fishing Freshwater Trust Expenditure Committee and the Recreational Fishing Saltwater Trust Expenditure Committee. A short time later, on 12 November 2014, based on those recommendations, a meeting of the Fisheries Minister’s Advisory Council on Recreational Fishing also approved the proposal. The minutes of that meeting (available on the DPI website) “noted the committee’s views regarding the need for an executive officer (managed by a major recreational fishing organisation/group recognised by government to represent recreational fishers and play a role in broader stakeholder consultation (government and non-government). The council agreed it was important that the executive officer (and associated major recreational fishing organisation/group) be recognised by other stakeholders; the appointment process for a group be facilitated by a competitive tender process involving rigorous tender specifications and be subject to performance monitoring; and that a tender panel be established and involve an independent stakeholder and a DPI representative.” There was a motion carried that “the council supports the concept of a NSW recreational fishing executive officer employed by a representative group established via tender process.” Indicative funding of about $170,000 for the first year to cover a salary and operating costs was also approved. In December 2014 the RFA of NSW had a meeting with Katrina Hodgkinson, Fisheries Minister at that time. She also was very supportive of the idea and expressed the view that the expressions-of-interest or tender process, estimated by Fisheries managers to take about 6 months, should be accelerated. In 2015 and 2016 the RFA of NSW also met with Niall Blair, the new Fisheries Minister, who also said he supported the concept. However, two years later the expressions-of-interest process hasn’t even started. Enquiries to Fisheries NSW managers are met with responses such as the position is “going through the necessary administrative requirements”. So, after two years, as the relationship between recreational fishing representatives and the government gets more complex, time-consuming and costly for volunteers, we still have no paid executive officer. The proposed executive officer role has been approved by the Trust Funds, by the Advisory Council and supported by two Fisheries Ministers, yet no one has even produced the paperwork to set the process in motion, let alone select a suitable candidate and get them established in the job.