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Wednesday, 9 November 2016
Page: 3448


Ms TEMPLEMAN (Macquarie) (10:49): The Minister for the Environment and Energy has on his desk the final EIS for the proposed Western Sydney Airport. I have spoken in this chamber about the fact that the EIS pushes virtually every serious study into its impacts into the future, including looking at the effect on the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage area, the flight paths and the biodiversity offsets. What has outraged residents of the Blue Mountains is the cavalier way in which their views have been treated by the consultation process. Not a single public meeting has been held by the government in the lead-up to the draft EIS or since to discuss the issue and the process. In contrast, when Labor considered allowing civilian flights at Richmond RAAF Base, also in my electorate, the first step was an open, advertised public meeting, where key senior staff from the relevant departments and agencies answered questions and sought community input. In the mountains, all we got were information booths at a couple of local markets staffed by pleasant consultants with a pat phrase: 'Aeroplanes are quieter these days.'

When the draft EIS was actually released, we were granted a two-hour public display of documents. There was no-one with any technical expertise, and the information was the same as that which was on the website. After an outcry, the government relented and we got another display drop-in centre one afternoon.

This lack of genuine engagement has done nothing but create anxiety, anguish and anger. No wonder that around 80 per cent of the 5,000 written submissions received came from the Blue Mountains. For those who felt it might be useful to all parties to verbally discuss the plan, there was one invitation-only visit by the Prime Minister. People opposed to the airport were refused entry, including resident Jenny Dolan, who had her invitation withdrawn at the door. So there was no communication between departmental officials or ministers and the community to explore issues raised in submissions, no public meeting to seek to respond to them and no engagement at all at a local level. I apologise for how I am about to describe the bulk of people who were fighting for a fair go with this airport plan, but apparently my middle-aged, professional, articulate residents who were protesting this are too scary for a minister or bureaucrats to meet in a public place!

Since the release of the final EIS, three local residents representing RAWSA, No Badgerys Creek Airport and the Blue Mountains Conservation Society were invited to a one-hour meeting with the ministers for environment and infrastructure. The Blue Mountains council was also involved. But, on this basis alone, my community feels that the EIS process does not measure up to the standards that we should expect for a project of the size, scale and impact of this one. The most recent public meeting overflowing showed very clearly that my community feels betrayed.