A rally was held outside State Parliament to save the Cronulla Fisheries Research Centre of Excellence. Photo: James Alcock, The Leader
The closure of the Cronulla Fisheries Research Centre of Excellence has been put on hold after lobbying from Christian Democrats MP Fred Nile.
At a rally against the closure this afternoon, Mr Nile revealed the government had agreed to temporarily halt the decommissioning of the centre until it had responded to a damning report by an upper house inquiry into the closure.
The inquiry, which was chaired by Mr Nile, found the decision to close the centre and decentralise its activities to several coastal towns was made without any economic analysis, in conflict with the government's own policies, and was never presented to cabinet.
The inquiry was critical of handling and evidence presented by the Minister for Primary Industries and Nationals MP Katrina Hodgkinson.
Mr Nile said he met Premier Barry O'Farrell on Monday, who he said seemed "embarrassed" about the handling of the decision.
"After I had a long discussion with the Premier he agreed something had to be done," he said.
"He passed the buck then to [Deputy Premier Andrew] Stoner."
Mr Nile then met Mr Stoner on Tuesday, who agreed to pause the dismantling until the government had formally responded to the findings and recommendations of the report.
A spokeswoman for Mr Stoner confirmed he had agreed to halt the decommissioning of the centre, with activities such as shifting equipment put on hold.
Following the release of the report Ms Hodgkinson said 41 public servants had already accepted a transfer to other locations, and that the department expected half of all scientific staff to remain with the organisation.
About 100 staff rallied at Parliament this afternoon. They welcomed the decision to pause the decommissioning but called on the government to implement the first recommendation of the inquiry and overturn the decision.