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The Environment and Parks Portfolios

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Thursday, 12 November 2020

Tags: Parks, Environment, State Budget

The Environment and Parks Portfolios, Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP, 12 November 2020


Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin - Motion) - Madam Deputy Speaker, I move -

That the House take note of the following matter: the Environment and Parks portfolios.

I believe the evidence of question time and the Minister for Environment and Parks' response to our very important question on behalf of thousands of Tasmanians who live along coastlines that are inundated at the moment with green slime from industrial-level fish farming tells us everything about why this Government has shut down the Greens' scrutiny of the Environment and Parks portfolios during the Estimates process.

Last year, members had five hours to scrutinise the Minister for Environment and Parks. What we have now is two hours in the current schedule, an hour for Environment, and an hour for Parks. We would have had half an hour less if the Labor Party had had their way. The Labor Party proposed to take an extra half an hour off that two hours and we would have had only an hour and a half.

Mr FERGUSON - Point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker, on a question of relevance. This is actually a reflection on the vote and the debate yesterday. This needs to be about the grievance debate.

Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER - Thank you, Leader of Government Business. I was about to say a similar thing. Dr Woodruff, you cannot reflect on a vote that happened yesterday. We need to get back onto the business of today.

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. While Dr Woodruff and I will not be reflecting on the vote, we can reflect on the time allocated in the Estimates schedule.

Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER - The time allocation yesterday was part of the resolution of the House, so that has been agreed to. Do not reflect on that part.

Dr WOODRUFF - Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. I am speaking to the fact that we have an agreed two hours. We do not need to talk about the debate but the fact that we have Government only allocated two hours towards the incredibly important portfolios of Parks and Environment, two of the most critical portfolios this Government has responsibility for, tells everything about the priorities of the Liberal Government -

Ms O'Connor - And the Labor Party.

Dr WOODRUFF - and the Labor Party, thank you, who would have shortened the debate by half an hour.

We have an appalling situation where there is no effective Environment minister and the display of the minister for Environment this morning tells us everything. He has vacated this portfolio. The community is seeing this across the state on every environmental issue. On every single environmental issue, the minister for the Environment washes his hands and either says speak to the minister for Primary Industries, or the minister responsible for gaming, or that is nothing to do with me, go and speak to the environmental regulator.

Well, the Environmental Protection Authority - supposed to be the independent regulatory body - is nothing like it. The EPA is a creature of the Liberal Government. It is a creature of the policy directives of this Environment minister. The Environment minister's policy directive at the moment to the EPA, and I am reading from the statement of expectation for the Environment Protection Authority: the Environment Protection Authority is expected that in the course of making decisions of balance, the board has due regard for the social and economic circumstances prevailing in Tasmania and, quote -

The objectives of the Government with respect to those circumstances.

In particular, the minister says -

I expect the board to take account of the need to create a more prosperous and equitable society, and this relies in large part upon providing employment opportunities.

There is nothing in the minister for Environment's statement of policy direction to the board of the EPA which talks about protecting the environment. What we see on every decision, every single time and continual Right to Information requests that we receive, stacks of information about EPA correspondence, on every single situation the director of the EPA is facilitating a situation to continue for the industry to produce; for operations to continue without any ceasing and without any cut back in scale or any reduction in expansion in their area. Instead the environment, the values of the environment, are continually degraded.

Threatened species are a joke under this minister. We have a wedge-tailed eagle recovery plan which is 10 years out of date. They just do not care. The Westbury prison on a site which is right next to a threatened wedge-tailed eagle nest. The minister just turned away from the local community who was writing, desperate for the minister to step in and protect all the natural values in the Birralee Road Reserve, the Westbury Reserve, which is under the minister's responsibility as a reserve. The minister could not care less.

The residents of Rosny Hill right now are preparing, all the money that they have raised in their community, to fight in RMPAT against the massive 300-metre long development on top of Crown land, a nature conservation recreation area. The minister refuses to step in and protect the threatened species, the leafy sun orchid. The minister was happy to sign away Crown land for a private jetty to a massively rich developer who wants to have his own jetty there and it would have threatened our spotted handfish. The minister just says, yes, no problems. Give it away.

The minister takes no action to intervene on the duck hunting season. We have the minister for Primary Industries providing scope for incredible devastation of the migratory duck population seeking refuge here in Tasmania. The minister for Environment is not interested. He is never interested except in industry productivity.