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Corrections' Estimates Confirms Government Working to Get Around Westbury Reserve Protections

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Wednesday, 8 September 2021

Tags: Westbury, Northern Prison, Environment, Biodiversity, Threatened Species

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens Environment and Biodiversity spokesperson

The Gutwein Government is actively working to diminish habitat for rare, threatened and endangered species in the northern Midlands, where less than 10% of original vegetation remains.

It is working with the Morrison Government to get around the State’s legal obligation to provide formal protection for the Westbury Reserve, in order to replace critical habitat with a northern prison.

When the Westbury Reserve was first set aside, the agreement with the Commonwealth required the land was to be “legally protected”, “managed in perpetuity”, and not to be used for any purpose other than nature conservation.

Corrections Minister, Elise Archer, confirmed the government is seeking to find an ‘offset’ for the Westbury Reserve in order to build a prison on the site.  

Any ‘offset’ would come at the cost of the loss of more than 70 hectares of critical, diminishing habitat for species such as the Wedge-tailed eagle, Masked owl, Grey goshawk as well as a host of bushland bird species and rare fauna.

You just can’t ‘offset’ critical habitat of this nature.

The Gutwein Government is now claiming the values for which the original reserve was set aside no longer exist on the site, yet the Minister would not say in Estimates today which consultancy undertook the assessment that came to this conclusion, or when it would be made public.

Field naturalist, Sarah Lloyd OAM, has undertaken comprehensive natural values assessment of the Westbury Reserve.

Her work confirms the importance and urgency of protecting the Westbury Reserve.  

The future of these rare endemic plants and animals now rests with two conservative governments that have demonstrated they will always put their own political interests, or the interests of the corporate donors, ahead of Nature.

The Greens will continue to be the voice for habitat protection, and stand with Westbury residents who are vehemently opposed to a northern prison on the Westbury Reserve.