Dr WOODRUFF question to PREMIER, Mr GUTWEIN
A year ago today, you said the Brushy Rivulet was 'a bush block' and an ideal location to build a prison and was also 'not a reserve'. The Minister for Corrections that day said there were no records of threatened wildlife on the block. However, DPIPWE records show the presence of numerous threatened flora and fauna on site. New right to information documents show the federal government has been demanding Tasmania give legal conservation protection to the reserve and its environmental values in perpetuity.
The Northern Regional Prison Project is planning core geotechnical drilling within the next week before planned spring and summer flora surveys needed for EPB assessment have been completed. Access to drilling locations with heavy machinery will be across and within what Dr Sarah Lloyd OAM describes as a botanical hotspot covered in orchids and lilies.
Residents have raised many serious issues with this location. Will you now acknowledge that this reserve is a terrible place for a prison, and step in to protect these conservation values in perpetuity, as has been called for by the federal environment department?
Mr Speaker, I thank the member for Franklin for that question. To be frank, I disagree with a lot of what you have had to say. In fact -
Dr Woodruff - With what? That the federal environment department has been calling for protection for threatened flora and fauna?
Mr SPEAKER - Order.
Mr GUTWEIN - We are going through all the necessary processes and due diligence of the site. Regarding drilling, as part of the continuing due diligence on the site the department needs to undertake further geotechnical investigations which will involve drilling an additional five to six holes to enable soil and rock core testing.
Dr Woodruff - And that will trash the site and its assessment for EPBC.
Mr SPEAKER - Order, member for Franklin.
Mr GUTWEIN - Drilling will begin in the next few weeks subject to contractor availability and weather conditions. The work follows on from some earlier drilling work undertaken in October last year. Importantly, all work permits have been obtained and the department works closely with the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment -
Dr Woodruff - Step in.
Mr SPEAKER - Member for Franklin, I ask you again to stop interjecting.
Mr GUTWEIN - Mr Speaker, the department works very closely with the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment and the independent environmental consultant to ensure that no work will be undertaken within 500 metres of the wedge-tailed eagle nest on the adjacent property or around any of the other sensitive natural values that have been identified on the site. Drilling operations will be conducted in a manner that takes into account the sensitive natural values that have been identified on the site.
Dr Woodruff interjecting.
Member for Franklin - Dr Woodruff
Mr SPEAKER - Member for Franklin, I ask you to withdraw from the Chamber until the end of question time for constantly interjecting.
Dr Woodruff - Of course, but it is standard practice to have a warning.
Dr Woodruff withdrew.
Ms Archer - Point of order, Mr Speaker. It has always been in our Standing Orders that if a member answers back and reflects on the Speaker ordering them out of the Chamber, that can lead to a 24-hour suspension. I draw your attention to that.
Ms O'Connor - Class monitor.
Ms Archer - You can call it what you want, Ms O'Connor, but the standards in this place have dropped. I am hoping that type of behavior does not continue this term.
Mr SPEAKER - Thank you for that. Premier, we will move on.
Mr GUTWEIN - Thank you, Mr Speaker. I was going to finish up by making the points that drilling operations will be conducted in a manner that takes into account the sensitive natural values. I understand that all of the surrounding property owners have been informed of the planned works prior to them commencing. I am presuming as they have not commenced yet that might still be under way and the department will continue to apply the highest levels of due diligence in preparation for lodging a combined planning scheme amendment and development application with the Meander Valley Council at the appropriate time.