Ms MARINO (Forrest—Chief Government Whip) (16:35): My electorate in the south-west of Western Australia is amazingly rich and diverse and produces some of Australia and the world’s best-quality food. This includes sustainable aquaculture. A great example of this is the juvenile abalone, which is being grown at the world’s first commercial abalone ranch, in Flinders Bay off Augusta, by Ocean Grown Abalone. Brad Adams and the team at Ocean Grown Abalone have brought a new vibrancy to Augusta. It is a town of just 1,382 people.
Brad grew up in Augusta, is a third-generation fisherman and is typical of the ingenuity shown by so many small business people. Brad had a great idea. He spent 20 years researching, developing and inventing a new technique to grow juvenile abalone on his artificial reefs, known as ‘abitats’. It’s a self-sustaining model. A professor of marine ecology and conservation at Murdoch University said the abalone are grown under very environmentally friendly practices with low, if any, negative impact on the environment, and the operation appears as though it should be very sustainable and, in fact, have a positive benefit for some species of fish, invertebrates and algae. Some of those species are King George whiting, dhufish and rock lobsters.
I’ve been out with Brad on his boat. His reefs are located in a unique area of Flinders Bay. This is where the two oceans meet—the Indian Ocean and the Southern Ocean. It’s an environment that optimises the growth and survival of the abalone: abundant natural feed, protection from large swells, suitable water temperatures and pristine oceanic water. The result is a top-quality delicacy sold in markets in Asia and Australia and meeting growing demand. Like so many small businesses, it started with Brad having the courage to invest his own money. He took a risk. He employed local people. He found the right markets and is providing top-quality abalone into those markets.
It takes time to mature the abalone. It’s a three-year process to ensure they are plump and juicy and ready for the market. Efficiency is the key at harvest time, with the abalone flash frozen and transported to dining tables both here and overseas. Visitors to Leeuwin Estate will actually try Augusta greenlip abalone on the menu, and this has been a hit with diners. Ocean Grown Abalone hopes to grow its operation and eventually harvest around 100 tonnes of abalone from Flinders Bay. It’s a substantial part of the global supply coming from Augusta in the south-west of Western Australia.
The business is just one of a number of exporting businesses in our region that will benefit from our funding to the upgrade of the Busselton-Margaret River Regional Airport. The Turnbull government, along with the previous Liberal-led government and the City of Busselton, invested almost $60 million to upgrade the airport to handle freight, domestic and international flights. This will mean that the amazing food, wine and produce in the south-west can be enjoyed right around the world. When people try out top-quality products, I encourage them to come and visit our south-west to see how well we do it and sample some more of the amazing produce and experiences we have to offer.