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Wednesday, 18 February 1987
Page: 296

Mr DOBIE(6.47) —Last year I brought to this House's attention the actions being take by residents of my electorate living at Kurnell to fight against the development of further toxic, noxious industries on their peninsula. Kurnell, as I am sure all honourable members now know, is the birthplace of Australia thanks to Cook having landed there nearly 217 years ago. I am pleased to report to the House that the residents of Kurnell have won a major victory after more than a year's fighting with the New South Wales Labor Government. The giant chemical group, Bayer, has now announced that it will not relocate its chemical formulation plant at Kurnell. The company's decision came after the completion of a commission of inquiry into the development application at which more then 90 per cent of the 314 submissions presented were opposed to the project. I might add that when Bayer's decision not to go ahead with the development was announced, this action was immediately embraced by the New South Wales Labor Minister for Environment, Mr Bob Carr. This is the same person who was unable for so long to find the time to even meet with a delegation from the Kurnell Action Committee. However, those of us who have been around a while, and are perhaps a little more cynical than some, believe the timing of Mr Carr's announcement might just have had something to do with the fact that the crucial State by-elections in Heathcote and Bankstown were, at the time, just around the corner. It is no accident that the preferences of the conservation candidate in the Heathcote by-election, Jim Powell, were influenced by the Government's belated show of concern for Kurnell.

At this juncture I would like to offer congratulations to the Kurnell residents, and particularly all those members of the Kurnell Action Committee who carried this fight. I know they would wish me to pass on their thanks publicly in the national Parliament to everyone in the wider community who supported them. Nevertheless, to borrow that old cliche, the battle is won but not the war. All of us now realise that the next stage is to see that the 4 (C4) zoning which would allow noxious and toxic industries to relocate at Kurnell is changed. This is in fact what the war is all about. This is the issue which Mr Carr has skirted around. He has ducked for cover each time the Kurnell Action Committee has attempted to solicit his attention. Last week I received a letter from the Kurnell Action Committee and I quote in part from that letter. It thanked me, Mr Deputy Speaker, as you would fully understand, for the work I did. The letter stated:

We realise only too well that Bayer Australia was really a test case and the real battle will not be won until the 4 (C4) zoning is replaced. Therefore, although we are overjoyed at the outcome of the Bayer Inquiry, we are being neither complacent nor over-confident and will most certainly continue our campaign. Once again, our sincere thanks for your help and assistance.

The New South Wales Labor Government has a quaint history in relation to dealings with Kurnell. An overt attempt was made by the Wran Government to wind up a 1981 commission of inquiry, but that did not work, and the commissioners, to their credit, went on to present a report which found that the proposed zoning for Kurnell as a 4 (C4) zone was not soundly based. As history shows, that State Government ignored the advice and the unfavourable zoning for Kurnell went ahead. That, I dare say, is what New South Wales Labor Party democracy is all about.

I had intended to quote at length from speeches and letters written by Mr James McClelland, a former ALP senator and former Chief Judge of the New South Wales Court of Land and Environment, but time is running out. Let me just say that he has been very critical of his own Party's governments in that State. Therefore, the ball is still with the Unsworth Government. If it has any environmental credibility at all, as it so often claims, I hope that it will act with expedition in answering the cries of Kurnell residents not only to endorse Bayer's decision not to move there but also to change the zoning classification given to Kurnell. Come on, Minister Carr; let us have your views on this.