1 year ago




8 SENATE Tuesday, 14 February 2017 and campaigners on the ground doing the job that should have been done by state and federal environmental compliance officers have observed, literally hundreds of breaches of environmental conditions. Fifty-three of them are recorded with photographic evidence in a letter that I have here today, which has been sent to Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg, and what I might do—because I am going to refer to it briefly, and it has been to the government and opposition whips—is seek leave to table that correspondence now, and then I can refer to it and other senators will have it. Leave not granted. Senator LUDLAM: Well, that is remarkable. I presume that that was not from the Labor side. I believe that leave was denied from the government side. Senator Fifield, you live a long way from Western Australia. I would have thought you would appreciate having the evidence to hand. That letter has gone to Minister Frydenberg, and what it does is identify an extraordinary pattern of noncompliance with the very environmental conditions that, we were promised, would lead to the kind of world's best practice that Senator Cormann was going on about a short time ago. But guess what: we have been advised that the senior compliance manager at the EPA, the state environmental watchdog, has stated that the agency does not have the power to suspend works no matter how serious the breaches of ministerial conditions may be. No matter how serious the breaches are, the state government does not have the power to stop work. So why the hell do we bother? Why do we bother with state environmental law? The reason that we bother—the reason that governments keep these fig leaves around them— is so that they can wave around these lists of stringent conditions, and they are being violated by the dozens and by the hundreds every single day on the ground. We know that this is occurring, because it is being documented. This letter—if the government senators had done me the courtesy, after we tipped them off, to actually be faced with the evidence; I understand why you would be a bit unwilling to do that—has 18 pages of evidence. We outline 53 very clear, photographically backed up breaches of the ministerial conditions that Minister Frydenberg believes are guiding environmental conduct at this project. Endangered quendas have been trapped just 90 minutes before bulldozers rolled in, in breach of the fauna management plan that he signed off. Why bother doing a fauna management plan if you do not care whether or not it is being upheld on the ground? There are missing surveys of nesting hollows of the iconic and endangered Carnaby's black cockatoo. We are running out of the kind of ecosystems and habitat that can support these endangered creatures. They are iconic. Anybody who has been to Western Australia—Senator Back and Senator Reynolds will know this; we have a reasonably good cross-section of Western Australian senators here—knows that these species are going to be locally extinct on the Swan Coastal Plain unless something is done. But what the Barnett government is doing, with cheques cashed by the Commonwealth government, is wiping out another 100 hectares of their habitat and saying, 'Well, if they fly 120 kilometres further south, we've changed some lines on a map and we've created some offsets.' We do not believe that those surveys were even done, and if that is the case—and the evidence that we have in this letter makes it very clear that it is the case—then this project is proceeding illegally. This project is proceeding unlawfully, in violation of a dozen or more of the conditions that the government placed upon it. So I want to know how serious a breach has to get before Minister Frydenberg stops the clock, because, if he does not stop the clock, the clock will be stopped by the electorate of Western Australia on 11 March, when the hopeless, bitter, clapped-out talent vacuum that we have come to know as the Barnett government is thrown out of office once and for all. That is how we will stop the clock. It will not prevent the extraordinary damage that has been done, but at least it will give us the opportunity to wind some of it back. As we speak this afternoon, I have been advised that contractors have started clearing section 5 this morning. There is some incredibly sensitive wetland habitat. People right now on the ground have described it as beautiful. There are balgas, huge majestical tuarts, thick bushland, cockatoos circling and living in the trees, and rainbow bee-eater nests. We know that they have caught quendas, endangered southern brown bandicoots, in the area as recently as yesterday morning. I want to acknowledge, in the brief period of time that I have left, special thanks to Andrew Joske, Naomi Caceres-Seeber, and the rest of the extraordinary team of volunteers working around the clock under the incredible guidance of Phoebe Corke. They are taking up the work that EPA and Commonwealth compliance officers should have taken up to monitor compliance breaches on site every day. It is not even that we do not have eyes on the ground. If the state government and Minister Frydenberg were interested in the evidence, the evidence is there that they are in flagrant violation of the conditions that the state and the Commonwealth put on them. There are people like Rex and Felicity who have been at this campaign for 30 years. There are people like Kate Kelly and Kim Dravnieks—campaigners of incredible standing and wisdom, and they know the history of this area. But there are also everyday people—mothers, friends and people like you—out there listening who were so CHAMBER

Tuesday, 14 February 2017 SENATE 9 moved to protect this precious place that they took on the courts and they formed an alliance with more than 30 disparate groups. They have waged a very, very powerful war against this thing. Every local council in the area is opposed to this but ignored. Friends of mine—very close friends and colleagues—have been arrested down there in very well-disciplined, non-violent direct actions where basically you say: 'I know I'm going to be breaking the law; I will take the consequences. That's how strongly I feel about protecting this extraordinary bit of bush.' We have stood shoulder to shoulder with Independents and we have stood shoulder to shoulder with Labor MPs, both state and federal, with councillors from across the political spectrum, and with residents not just from the impacted area but right across Perth metro. This campaign has gone national, and so it should because it is national Commonwealth taxpayer dollars that are paying for it. If your hospital or transport system in Western Sydney is run down or if you are in outer suburban Melbourne and you do not have cycleways or you do not have decent schools, it is partly because Tony Abbott committed a billion dollars of Commonwealth money to this project without even knowing where it was. He probably could not even have pointed to it on a map. I also want to acknowledge my dear colleague Lynn MacLaren MLC, who has been the state member for the South Metropolitan region for eight years and hopefully many more years. The Greens, the Labor Party, the Independents and even Pauline Hanson's One Nation party have come out and condemned it. How bad does a project have to be before One Nation sits up and takes notice? I think it will be to their regret that they then proposed to preference the very same people who are driving the bulldozers. But, nonetheless, this has very strong and deep cross-party community support, and it is going to bury the Barnett government come 11 March. Senator BACK (Western Australia) (13:16): I rise to speak to the motion regarding the extension of the Roe Highway Roe 8 and 9 and support the explanation given by the Minister for Finance, Minister Cormann. For those not familiar with why the words 'Roe 8 and 9' are used, this particular project is part of a very extensive project that had its origins in 1955. We are not speaking about a recent project, as some might have suggested. It was the Stephenson-Hepburn plan of 1955, Madam Acting Deputy President, as you know, and the very term 'Roe 8 and 9' suggests there have been a Roes 1 to 7, and indeed there have been. Roe 1 to 7 is a large highway extending from the eastern side of Perth, including the freight areas and the light industrial areas, heading in a westerly direction and, at the moment, stopping at the Kwinana Freeway where it intersects north-south at the end of Roe 7. You might ask, 'Why haven't we had Roe 8 and 9 completed years ago?' Well, the decision was taken back in 2004 by the then minister Ms MacTiernan who has, most latterly, been in this parliament. Indeed, she did not last long in the federal parliament. She was a minister in the previous state Labor government, and I will acknowledge she was an effective minister. In fact, she was the only one who was an effective minister because she achieved something in that state Labor government of Mr Gallop and Mr Carpenter. Ms MacTiernan, I understand, is now being recycled in the current state election in March of 2017. Of course, at that time, to save the political skin of the then Labor member for Fremantle, state Labor member Jim McGinty, they cancelled what should have been Roes 8 and 9, otherwise known at that time as the Fremantle Eastern Bypass, which was to be the continuation of the Stephenson plan into the port of Fremantle to link-up freight traffic from the eastern suburbs and the freight accumulation areas and logistics areas into Fremantle. But, for cheap political gain, they cancelled the Fremantle Eastern Bypass and they rezoned it as residential so it could never be done. The interesting thing is, for those who are taxpayers of Australia, at that time, had it been completed, the best estimates were some $220 million to $250 million. Instead of that, to complete it today, we have to spend $1.2 billion. I do want to draw attention to a quote from a gentleman well versed in road transport in Western Australia—so much so that he was a representative of the Transport Workers Union at that time. This is a quote from him in 2004, when this gentleman said, on the idea of removing the Fremantle Eastern Bypass: 'This will create a frightening congestion problem of mammoth proportions in the very near future on all highways and major roads leading to the docks.' That person, of course, was so influential and so knowledgeable in road transport in Western Australia that he now sits opposite me here as Senator Glenn Sterle, from the Western Australian division of the Labor Party. Senator Sterle's knowledge of the industry was so valid that, in fact, what we come to see in 2016-17 is exactly—through you, Madam Acting Deputy President, to another old transport broken-down shearer in Senator Williams—what Glenn Sterle said: a frightening congestion problem of mammoth proportions in the very near future on all highways and major roads leading to the docks. It is exactly what the now Senator Sterle said would happen. It did happen. For those of you who do not know Western Australia, I will attempt to explain it: we have, for example, a very, very high instance of rear-end collisions on what is now the major traffic arterial road, or car park, called the Leach Highway. About 70-odd per cent of all accidents on the Leach Highway are due to rear-end CHAMBER

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