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4 SENATE Tuesday, 14 February 2017 Let me continue. Over 1,000 hectares of high-quality conservation land has been acquired as offsets. So, No. 1, just 0.49 per cent of the entire Beeliar Wetlands is impacted by the Roe 8 highway extension. Over 1,000 hectares of high-quality conservation land has been acquired as offsets. And listen to this. The Labor party and the Greens kept telling us that they are interested in emissions reductions, in policies to reduce emissions. Guess what? When you stop forcing trucks to stop and start at 14 traffic lights, do you know what the effect of that is? Do you know what the effect of smoother traffic with freight, going to Fremantle port, is? It leads to a reduction in carbon emissions. In fact, this has been quantified. Roe 8 and Roe 9 are expected to save—to save—450,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions by 2031. Now, I would have thought that the Greens would be marching in the streets for us to put that money into— Senator Pratt interjecting— Senator CORMANN: I would have thought the Greens would be marching in the streets to urge the government to get on with it, to get the Perth Freight Link built, to get the tunnel built, to get the Perth Freight Link finalised as quickly as possible so we can start reducing carbon emissions. Let me continue. More than $45 million has been invested in Roe 8 to specifically accommodate environmental sensitivities and to provide better recreational access. We have bent over backwards, both the federal government and the state government, to ensure that this is a world-leading project when it comes to environmental design and construction. The construction is on land already partly cleared for overhead power lines, to minimise the environmental footprint. The state government in Western Australia is pursuing a restoration program at North Lake and Horse Paddock Swamp, including revegetation of degraded areas and weed control. Grass trees, zamia palms, melaleuca, Western Australian Christmas trees and native animals have been relocated. Wetlands bridges over Roe Swamp and Horse Paddock Swamp will maintain ecological connections for native animals. Top-down construction will minimise the clearing footprint. These are all pieces of information that of course the Greens do not care about. Senator Ludlam comes into the Senate, holds up the business of the Senate, saying, 'I want to see the full, unredacted business case,' even though he knows it would do commercial harm— Senator Pratt: It is the Senate that has made that request, not Senator Ludlam. Senator CORMANN: to the people of Western Australia—not because he is actually interested in information. That business case could reveal that this would lead to 10 per cent economic growth in Australia, and Senator Ludlam which still be opposed. There is no amount of economic benefit that would convince Senator Ludlam that this is a good project. But what shocks me is that the Labor Party, who used to be much more sensible than this, yet again in pursuit of Greens preferences in the inner-city seats of Western Australia and around Australia, is absolutely selling out the workers and selling out communities in suburbs of Perth in the pursuit of Green preferences. I expect this sort of garbage from the Greens, but I did not expect it from the Labor Party. And, back when Senator Sterle used to stand up for truckies in Western Australia, he was a strong advocate for this project. Let me just finalise by making this point again: building Roe 8 and 9, the Perth Freight Link project, will mean fewer trucks and cars and fewer accidents on local roads, including Leach Highway, Farrington Road, South Street, Stock Road, North Lake Road, Beeliar Drive. Building Roe 8 and 9, the Perth Freight Link will mean freeflowing highway access east and west across our city to places including Perth Airport, Fiona Stanley Hospital, Murdoch University and Fremantle port. Do you know what else it will do, Madam Deputy President? It will improve the value of residential properties across that whole south metropolitan area because, by removing the trucks from these arterial roads, by removing the congestion, by improving the amenity across the south metropolitan region through this record $1.2 billion federal investment in the great state of Western Australia, we actually will be contributing to a general lift across the area which will also be reflected in the property prices in this area. That is something that was confirmed by work commissioned by the state government of Western Australia which has been publicly released in full. I will finish where I started. Senator Ludlam can come into this Senate and get the Labor Party to agree to 20 more audits. It will not change the fact that governments of both political persuasions, including the Labor government— Senator Pratt: And you won't comply with an order of the Senate. Senator CORMANN: Senator Pratt, I used to be on your side. Do you know what? We are providing much more information than your government ever did. We are providing explanations. When we do not provide information because it is not in the public interest to do so, we explain the public harm that would be caused by the release of that information and we point to a specific public interest immunity ground as to why we are not releasing certain information. The then Treasurer Wayne Swan never did us that courtesy, ever. He never did us CHAMBER

Tuesday, 14 February 2017 SENATE 5 that courtesy, ever. I could give you a conga line of Labor ministers in the Rudd and Gillard governments, supported and backed up by the Greens, who always folded when it came to a head, who always folded in the face of Labor ministers, on things like the mining tax and the carbon tax. The Greens would be side by side with us in opposition, saying, 'We need more information.' When it came to the crux, when it came to the pointy end, when it came to putting something behind it, when it came to a proposal that I put to Senator Brown, who was the leader of the Greens at the time, that as a Senate we should refuse to deal with the mining tax legislation until such time as the government complied with providing relevant information, he went to water. Of course, everything that we predicted in relation to that particular tax in the lead-up to it being legislated, with the support of the Greens, has ultimately come true. The Greens will never like the Perth Freight Link project. It could be objectively identified with a PhD thesis going over 1,000 pages explaining why this is the best thing that has ever happened in infrastructure in Western Australia and still Senator Ludlam would not be supporting it. So this is just a complete waste of the Senate's time. We know why the Labor Party is supporting this. The Labor Party in Western Australia is quite desperate for Greens preferences in these inner city areas of Perth. They are very scared of the Greens, and that is of course why they come here, into the Senate, quite weak and support an outrageous motion like this. It is consistent with the practice of governments of both political persuasions. We as a government have provided as much information in response to all of these orders as we can. We are not in a position to provide the additional unredacted information that was sought by the order of the Senate yesterday, and that is because it would impose commercial harm on Australia. It would also harm relations between the Commonwealth and a state government—namely, the state government of Western Australia. Some of the information that has been sought in these various orders is not information that is our information. They are WA government cabinet-inconfidence documents. I am sure that even the Labor Party would agree that it would not be appropriate for a federal government to release cabinet-in-confidence information that is actually owned by the Western Australia government. I table the document that I quoted from in relation to the factual information circulated in Western Australia. Senator LUDLAM (Western Australia—Co-Deputy Leader of the Australian Greens) (12:56): I move: That the Senate take note of the explanation just attempted by Senator Cormann. Yesterday the Senate resolved that if Senator Mathias Cormann did not lay key documents on the table relating to the $2 billion Roe Highway disaster in Perth that he would be required to attend the chamber at this time to provide an explanation for his failure to do so. It is the first time in recent memory, certainly the first time since I have been here, that the Senate has raised the stakes in this way. Anyone who has been in the chamber for more than a few weeks will know that orders for the production of documents are an essential, practical tool of transparency. The Greens have an undertaking to our colleagues on the crossbenches and the opposition that unless there are unusual circumstances we will generally support them in requesting documents from the government, whether it is something that we are personally interested in or not. In my view, it is part of the Senate's job to do this. If you go to the Hansard you will see that we supported numerous Liberal and National Party orders when they were in opposition. You can spend a year getting snowed in the labyrinth of freedom of information obstruction or you can come in here and order that things be tabled on much shorter deadlines—obviously, within reason. When I first showed up here in 2008, I remember it being a pretty big deal for a government to defy such an order. Governments either handed material over or they provided a compelling reason why it was not in the public interest to do so, or they copped the consequences. In the New South Wales parliament, they have had a mechanism for many years where, in the event of a stand-off between the parliament and a minister, an independent arbiter would be called on to determine if the minister's excuse was valid or not—and it works. Ministers know that if their public interest excuse is watertight they will have an independent umpire who will back them up. The parliament knows that there is an independent check and balance in the system to prevent the kind of abuse of process that we are bearing witness to today. I hope that Senator Rhiannon will go into more detail about how this worked in the New South Wales context. In 2010 Senators Brown and Milne and the member for Melbourne Adam Bandt got agreement from Ms Julia Gillard to introduce such a mechanism into the Senate, and two years later the Labor Party formally reneged. I can remember at the time that one of my fiercest allies in the quest to hold the government to their agreement was none other than Senator Mathias Cormann. This is what he said in 2009: I am sincerely shocked at how quickly this government have turned into a secretive government— I am not going to try and do the accent, but these are his words— CHAMBER

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