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Thursday, 20 June 2013
Page: 6582


Mr BOWEN (McMahon) (11:53): I rise to update the House on the campaign against the Liberal Party's outrageous plans to dump radioactive waste in my electorate and in the electorate of Lindsay. We have spoken about this in the House before. There is radioactive waste at Hunters Hill, on Sydney's North Shore, as a result of an old factory which used radium to make medical supplies in the early part of this century. This very serious matter has been going on for a long time. Before the last state election in New South Wales the Liberal Party promised that they would not dump radioactive waste in Western Sydney. But after the election we have seen a complete change of heart from the New South Wales Liberal government. The proposal to dump 5,000 tonnes of radioactive waste at the Kemps Creek facility and also at Lidcombe in the federal electorate of Reid is something that the Liberal Party is intent on proceeding with.

My colleagues the member for Lindsay, the member for Fowler and I met with Premier O'Farrell several weeks ago to put to him the concerns of our communities. He was good enough to accept the meeting and have a discussion with us about it—and I do acknowledge that. He said to us that this was a very serious issue, that people may well have died as a result of this waste and that we needed to deal with it. As we said to the Premier, that is our very point: it is a very serious issue. But for him to say that people have died and therefore this waste must be taken out of Sydney's North Shore and dumped in Western Sydney is completely unacceptable.

The minister responsible for this decision was Minister Pearce. There has been a lot of talk about Minister Pearce lately—there have been calls for his dismissal—but I am not going to go there. But I tell you what: what he should be sacked for is his outrageous arrogance when it comes to the people of Western Sydney. This is what he said about Kemps Creek, in my electorate:

It is 5km from the nearest housing and the area around it is not zoned for housing. This is a purpose-built facility away from everybody.

I do not think he has ever been there. There is a house at the gate, with people living there—next to this facility. There are 2,309 people living in Kemps Creek. These are people. Mr Pearce seems to think they do not exist. Then there are the people of the surrounding suburbs and communities—Abbotsbury, St Clair, Erskine Park, Colyton, all concerned about this outrageous plan to dump the North Shore's radioactive waste in Western Sydney.

We had a rally last week. It was convened and paid for by the member for Lindsay, in the absence of leadership from Penrith City Council and their refusal to pay for the rally against this move. There was a good crowd there, and we talked about the substance of the issue. We talked about the proposal by the federal Labor members for a feasibility study to encapsulate this waste where it is. We are not sticking our heads in the sand—we are not suggesting that nothing should be done—but there is a realistic, feasible way of dealing with this, which is to encapsulate the waste to ensure that it is appropriately stored, without using Western Sydney as a dumping ground.

Some people have said, 'Why are the federal Labor MPs interested in this? This is a state matter.' It is because our Liberal state MPs are missing in action, refusing to stand up for their communities. Tania Davies and Andy Rohan have been completely absent from this discussion. Ms Davies was very vocal about this before the state election. She was out there at the site, saying this would not happen. Mr Rohan was on the Fairfield City Council. He was against this. Now, all of a sudden, because the New South Wales Liberal government has this as policy, they are struck dumb and refusing to stand up for their communities. They have sided with their party over their community. But federal Labor MPs are prepared to stand up for the community. If anybody proposes this, if a state Labor government or Liberal government in the future propose this, we will oppose it just as we are opposing it now and have opposed it in the past. And we will continue to oppose it.

The Liberal Party say 'this is just soil'. Even as recently as last week, they were saying, 'It's just soil.' But, if it is just soil, why not leave it where it is? If it is just soil, why does it have to be monitored for 300 years—300 years—to ensure the risk remains acceptable? It is not an acceptable risk. Three hundred years is not acceptable as the length of time it requires monitoring. The New South Wales government should drop this plan today. I fear they are putting off making a decision until after the federal election so as not to run interference for their mates in the federal Liberal Party. We will keep this campaign going. There will be more rallies, there will be more protests and we will not rest until this plan is dead.