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Monday, 20 August 2012
Page: 9206

Ms RISHWORTH (Kingston) (21:35): I rise tonight to raise an issue that many constituents in my electorate have brought to my attention: their lack of voice when it comes to planning laws around where to put telecommunications towers. Residents in my electorate recognise that having access to phone coverage is very important, and towers are a necessary part of telecommunications infrastructure. Certainly, it is something that is raised with me on a regular basis. However, a lot of residents are feeling very frustrated and confused about how they can have influence and a voice on where these telecommunications towers go.

In particular, there are two towers that are causing a lot of concern in my electorate. There is one on lot 94, Country Road, adjacent to Sellicks Creek and Sellicks Beach; and there is one on the Esplanade at Aldinga. The first one, on Sellicks Beach, is causing a lot of concern because it is metres away from nearby homes in a residential zoned area. Residents are confused as to why this tower cannot be put onto the other tower that is in the vicinity in a more industrial area. It seems that this is the cheapest way that the company can put up a tower, so they have decided to put it there.

Residents felt bewildered about how to object to this. In the first part of the process, through the development assessment panel, they felt that they had no support and no-one to help them through quite a complex planning process. In that situation the development assessment panel could see their point of view, despite a long and frustrating process, and have supported them. However, the telecommunications company, Telstra, has appealed this and is now going to the ERD Court. The ERD Court, once again, will be considering this. If the court does find in their favour, it can then be appealed to the Supreme Court.

These are just a group of residents who really feel that they are in a David and Goliath battle. They feel that no matter what happens, and when planning authorities can see their point of view it just ends up in another appeal and another appeal until they are worn out and weary of it. This is of great concern. It is important to recognise that these residents do not have the resources that these large telecommunications companies have, they do not have the lawyers and they do not have people who can always back them up. It is important to note that these processes need to be simpler for local residents.

The tower at Aldinga is on the esplanade. For those people who have not been to Aldinga Beach I would suggest you travel there. It is a beautiful place and a real tourist attraction, with the Tour Down Under, a very popular international event, being staged there. These residents of Aldinga Beach have found themselves in a situation where a tower will be put up right on the esplanade. They believe it is important to have these towers and to have telecommunications but ask whether the beachfront is the appropriate place for this.

They are going through, once again, the process of trying to voice their opposition to this. They have had meetings. They are going through the process. But the process is quite bewildering for them. Hopefully the development assessment panel will see their point of view. Up until that point they do not have that support. They do not have that help. And so they are left. But if it does come to a situation where they have a point and these companies are not meant to build, according to the planning authorities, they can continue to appeal.

That has become wearisome for a lot of the residents in my electorate. They feel that they do not have anywhere to go. In fact, one resident, Mr Warren Everett, said:

It took a significant and conscious effort by a small group of residents to fight this battle and it seems like, because of power and money, these corporations have made it very difficult. When the DAP refused the proposal, we thought great! Then a few months later we find they are appealing. It has been largely the good will of a select few that have made this fight so far, but we have not had the resources and if we had we would have appointed a QC to really help us with this. But we haven't been able to do so.

I think the residents in this situation need support and I would urge consideration. (Time expired)