Tasmanian fish farm opponent Mark ‘Mr Flathead’ Duncan eyes Senate spot
Mark Duncan, aka Mr Flathead, wants to keep a check on salmon farm expansion in Tasmania. (Supplied: Mark Duncan)
A Tasmanian fishing charter operator, known as Mr Flathead, who gained notoriety as an anti-fish farm activist will run for the Senate in next year’s federal election.
Mark Duncan has been campaigning against the expansion of the salmon farming industry, after pens filled with potentially sick fish were moved to Norfolk Bay, in southern Tasmania, earlier in the year.
Mr Duncan runs charter trips in Norfolk Bay for customers to catch flathead.
In August, salmon producer Huon Aquaculture received permission from the EPA to move potentially-diseased salmon to an unused lease in Norfolk Bay.
He became the face of the failed campaign to stop the move but now he wants to take his campaign to Canberra.
“They’re not listening, the Liberal Party and the Labor Party, they’re just not listening,” he said.
“We need something done about this massive expansion of the salmon industry in Tasmanian waters.”
“Desperate times, desperate measures. I’m in.”
Fuelled by anger at the expansion of the salmon industry in northern Tasmania, Craig Garland ran as an independent in the July by-election in Braddon.
Both major parties had their leaders, then prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten, constantly revolving through the north-west electorate.
On a shoestring campaign budget, Craig Garland secured more than 10 per cent of the first preference vote and his preference flow gave the win to Labor.
Now he has announced he is all but certain to contest the 2019 election.
Fisherman Craig Garland has held meetings with both Labor and Liberal representatives in Canberra. (ABC News: Laura Beavis)
“At this point in time I will, unless they address some of these issues,” he said.
“I just want to go fishing and see my kids grow up, but if we can get some traction and some common sense and get things managed how they should be then I’ll donate five or six years of my life. “
Political analyst Richard Eccleston said one of the men had more than a puncher’s chance of becoming a Senator.
“It’s quite likely that an independent or a minor party candidate could be elected as the last Senator for Tasmania at the next federal election,” he said.
Professor Eccleston believes Jacquie Lambie is no certainty to be that person, given her party’s poor showing at the state election.
Garland rules out Palmer party
Some already regard Craig Garland as having a serious chance of winning a spot.
He was recently invited to Canberra as a guest of the Australian Institute of Marine and Power Engineers.
Mr Garland had meetings with independent Denison MP Andrew Wilkie and representatives of both Labor and Liberal parties, including Bill Shorten.
He has also been approached by Clive Palmer’s United Australia party to run under its banner.
“They’ve got a significant amount of cash, they’re looking for a candidate down here but I’m not suited to a party,” he said.
Mark Duncan believes that if he needs financial support it will be there.
“Certain people have said to me that, if and when I need that funding it will become available.”
Mark Duncan believes financial backing for his Senate campaign will not be a problem. (Supplied: Mark Duncan)