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Wednesday, 29 February 2012
Page: 2396


Mr BANDT (Melbourne) (09:57): Sustainable power supply should not come at the price of people's health or the cost of their amenity. With my Greens colleagues we have effectively facilitated a national focus on clean, renewable energy. I am now turning close attention to the impact of energy infrastructure on communities. Residents in my electorate of Melbourne are facing the prospect of living alongside a 66-kilovolt terminal station, plans for which have been granted executive approval by the Baillieu government. I note that the member for Wills is in the chamber too and I am glad he is, because I know he has raised this issue as well. Already cohabiting with a 22-kilovolt facility, residents are rightly concerned about the intervention to approve the expansion and bypass the scrutiny of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal. Chris Black, Ramon Collodetti and other members of the Merri Creek Residents Group have been campaigning tirelessly for their community, and on their behalf I am now continuing to bring to the attention of the federal parliament the following concerns about the proposal.

Firstly, the requisite regulatory test provides insufficient scrutiny of the social impacts of the facility and does not require independent analysis of the health and safety risks. I have written to the Minister for Resources and Energy to bring his attention to this. Secondly, residents are rightly concerned about the current absence of Australian standards for exposure to electromagnetic fields. The draft standard has not yet been approved, leaving open the possibility of an unsafe environment for families. Furthermore, debates about the safety of the proposed facility and the appropriate EMF levels have focused on international standards for critical exposure rather than chronic exposure. While the predicted EMF levels may fall beneath international standards for critical exposure, residents will be in streets registering EMF levels of four to eight to milligauss. Over time, levels above three milligauss correlate with a higher risk of childhood leukaemia. There are also concerns for children living under the high voltage line further down the line in the electorate of the member for Batman. One report on this site suggests that warning signs can be installed to deal with high magnetic field values on that footpath immediately above the underground cables—poor comfort for the residents who are using these footpaths daily. I have written to the health minister to request immediate advice on the progress of the standards.

Thirdly, the intervention by the Victorian government has denied residents their right to participate in the planning process. I have written to the Premier expressing my concerns. Fourthly, expansion of the terminal is based on outdated data regarding power consumption in Melbourne and is inconsistent with the reformation of the National Electricity Market to remove the bias towards centralised coal fired power generation and encourage demand management and the development of distributed generation and renewable energy. Ironically, the unique Moreland Energy Foundation, with its forward-thinking plan to make Melbourne self-sufficient in energy supply through the introduction of cogeneration, takes in Brunswick and the site of this facility. I join with residents to call for an immediate independent review of this proposal.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms AE Burke ): Order! In accordance with standing order 193 the time for constituency statements has concluded.