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Thursday, 21 March 2013
Page: 2939

Mr OAKESHOTT (Lyne) (12:09): I acknowledge that we have a time frame so I will do what I can to keep my speech under five minutes. I certainly acknowledge many who have come from the apology event in the Great Hall this morning, and sincerely hope that today makes a very big difference for many—certainly for a better Australia.

And I sincerely hope that this legislation makes for a better Australia, as well. This is an important reform that has been driven largely by the member for New England, who is next to me, and by many in this chamber, across party lines, who are concerned about the status specifically of water, but more broadly about the place of ecosystems and landscapes in this century, when reforms will be ever more important in some of the great challenges of our time.

If the population around the world does not change we will need to be producing twice as much food on half the landscape with half the environmental damage. That is a very difficult and unanswered equation that this legislation will hopefully play a small part in helping to start to answer, from an Australian perspective. It will allow landscape and ecosystem services to be recognised more in state and federal law. I am disappointed that it has come to the point that the Commonwealth has had to use the fairly blunt instrument of legislation, but state land laws are failing to recognise some of the very real challenges faced at a community level and the importance of water to the overall landscape and community amenity.

I want to raise some issues that are not addressed by this bill. One is population health, which is given a low planning value and does, over time, need to be given a greater value in the planning process in terms of the cost benefit—for example in the cardiovascular impacts of some of the decisions made in planning with regard to large-scale open cut mining.

As well, what is not in this bill, but I hope is addressed over time, is the status of local government planning powers and, by extension, community empowerment. Communities are completely disengaged, disenfranchised and frustrated by the anomalies in our legislation that have approvals of mining and coal seam gas overriding many issues in local government planning law. I have an example in my local community of Gloucester, where an area, through community consultation, has been defined under local government law as an area of scenic protection, yet there is an approval before the state authorities to put in a large open-cut coalmine. That is being done under legislation that overpowers that local government scenic protection determination. That is an anomaly that, over time, I hope is addressed.

Another example relates to recent approvals. The Gloucester Valley, only weeks ago had an approval of 110 gas wells. It has all been very public that at the very same time that one in Western Sydney was removed from planning the Gloucester project was approved. This was done only one month ago. It was done only days before the New South Wales government put in place their two-kilometre exclusion zone. Therefore, quite rightly, the 2,500 people living in Gloucester will see the passage of this legislation as a bitter-sweet moment.

I urge the company involved and the state approval authorities to reconsider some of those recent approvals, when we are still developing the law in this chamber and at a state level—when the energy rush is on, yet the laws are immature and proving to be ad hoc. I urge the state and the company involved in the Gloucester approval to reconsider in light of the new laws of the land, at both a state and federal level. Hopefully, they will reflect on that.

I am not one to go down the path of retrospective legislation and to try and get this House to support that, as difficult and frustrating as that is, with the recent approval on my patch, but I will urge with all my power that the state and the individual company reconsider. I move:

That all words after "That" be omitted with a view to substituting the following words:

"whilst not declining to give the bill a second reading, the House:

1. acknowledges:

(a) deep concern in several communities, such as the Gloucester Valley, where approvals have been made in the middle of recent immature and ad hoc planning laws being changed or updated;

(b) the ongoing failure of state planning laws that have forced the Commonwealth to become more involved in land law, and that the Commonwealth Minister and this Parliament continue to advocate to all states and territories the importance and value or ecosystem and landscape management over the coming century;

(c) the anomalies in various planning laws that disempower communities, particularly the way various provisions in various mining acts override local government planning powers; and

(d) the low planning value currently placed on the cost/benefit of population health.

2. strongly urges companies involved, and Governments involved, to reconsider some of these questionable recent approvals based on the four reasons above."

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Dr Leigh ): Is the amendment seconded?

Mr Windsor: I second the amendment.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: We need a seconder who has not spoken, the Clerk informs me. Since the member for New England has spoken in the debate, he is unable to second the amendment. The House is seeking a seconder for the member for Lyne's amendment.

Mr Wilkie: I second the amendment and reserve my right to speak.

Debate interrupted