& OTHER FISHY MATTERS
by GEOFFREY G.T. HARRISON
WITH EUNICE C. HARRISON
In February 1963, I was recruited from Ghana where I was Head of Fisheries in HM Colonial Service. This followed national advertising throughout Australia with no suitably trained or qualified applicant with experience in commercial fisheries being found by the Queensland public service.
It didn’t take long into my new job to discover that senior long-entrenched public servants were blocking me at every point. Lacking up to date legislation, staff and facilities I could achieve little, but I could cop the blame!
Twelve years on, I was removed from my position as Director of Queensland Fisheries without any reason being given. Cronyism was at the root of how things got done. I was not “One of Us”.
Geoff Harrison was born in 1922 and raised in York, England. During World War II, he served for five years in the Royal Air Force and the Homeguard, prior to joining the Colonial Service in West Africa. As a Radar Instructor-Mechanic, his RAF service was classified ‘top secret’.
Following his war service, Geoff attended the University of Leeds and graduated with a Bachelor of Science (Chemistry). He completed training courses in Fisheries Management in Denmark conducted by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations as well as courses in food canning, echo sounders and marine engines in the United Kingdom.
Joining the Colonial Service in 1949, Geoff was appointed as the Head of the Department of Fisheries in Ghana for thirteen years. During this time, he became the pioneer of what was to become the world’s biggest tuna fishery. With the help of the American company Starkist Seafoods, Geoff was able to grow the fishery in Ghana which then spread through the Gulf of Guinea.
It was in Ghana that Geoff met Eunice Enright. Eunice was from Queensland and was working for the Australian High Commission at the time. They married in England in 1963 but came back to Australia to live in Manly – near Moreton Bay. It was here Geoff and Eunice raised four children.
In the same year, Geoff began his new role as Chief Inspector of Fisheries and Senior Biologist (Queensland), the most senior Fisheries Officer in Queensland. His task was to put all Fisheries matters, except the Fish Board, under the one umbrella, for the first time.
I wrote DEMonOCRACY & Other Fishy Matters with my wife as our final duty to Queensland. It sets out the huge cost to the State and to the Fishing Industry through the years and years of the blocking of my proposals for only one reason, that I was an outsider in a cliquey public service system were ‘mates’ looked after ‘mates’ and jobs were given by who you knew, not what you know.
I retired from the public service in August 1982 with a clean record and without disciplinary action. My attitude till then was, ‘I was brought here to do a job and I will do it in spite of Them’.
In 2005 the Principal Legal Officer of the DPI said to me “You are the Pioneer of the Queensland Commercial Fishing Industry”.
“In 1988 the ABC-TV flagship current affairs program ‘The 7:30 Report’ presented a feature piece on Geoff, reflecting on his 20 years in the Queensland public service”.
Geoff Harrison Director of Fisheries for Queensland is a good guy. He is educated, honest, experienced, always professional and a good family man. I am grateful that he has written this small book to set the record straight in relation to some of the ‘happenings’ during his tour of duty in Queensland.
The politics surrounded the Drilling of the Great Barrier Reef, the impacts of farming on runoff, clearing of marine habitats, Crown of Thorns starfish etc. Bjelke-Petersen was very strident on these issues and Geoff said his piece on behalf of Fisheries conservation as he should and was isolated as a result.
Queensland Fisheries would have been better off today if the Government had acted on his professional advice.
Geoff Harrison did his bit for the Fisheries and did it well. This is his story.
© 2010 – 2018 G.G.T. HARRISON | ALL RIGHTS RESERVED