Dr WOODRUFF question to MINISTER for CORRECTIONS, Ms ARCHER
Your new project director for the northern regional prison project is following your lead by providing false statements about the impact of the proposed prison on Brushy Rivulet Reserve. You repeatedly denied the presence of threatened values on this site until -
Dr WOODRUFF - Mr Speaker, it is hard to hear with the interjections.
Mr SPEAKER - Order.
Dr WOODRUFF - I am obviously touching a nerve. Minister, you repeatedly denied the presence of threatened values on this site until the Premier last week confirmed they do exist. You have failed to wait for critical spring and summer surveys needed to assess the location and abundance of known threatened flora. Instead, you are pushing ahead with drilling work by massive machinery across sensitive plant areas during a wet winter.
Residents were told by your project director that drilling would be undertaken by a vehicle 'about the size of a four wheel drive', but today, instead, three large trucks - one with drilling equipment - have entered the reserve.
Do you agree you are knowingly avoiding required threatened species assessment by sanctioning today's drilling? Would the community believe anything you tell them when you have continually misled them from the very start of this process?
Mr Speaker, the hypocrisy and the flip on these questions is not lost. As I just heard my colleague say, they complain on the one hand about the prison system, and then when we are trying to build a prison they oppose it.
Dr Woodruff - You do not care about the Westbury community. You were always going to put it anywhere it would save your political face.
Mr SPEAKER - Order. Member for Franklin, you have asked the question. Allow the minister to answer it.
Ms ARCHER - I welcome this question because Dr Woodruff continues to peddle some mistruths about this.
I can provide the House with an update on the drilling as of yesterday. It is part of the continuing due diligence on the site. The due diligence is revealing all sorts of things that are relevant for the planning application. There is no mystery in what the due diligence is actually there for and what it turns up.
The Department of Justice is undertaking further geotechnical investigations. It will involve drilling five to six holes to enable soil and rock core testing. Drilling commenced yesterday, and will continue over approximately a week. This work follows on from some earlier geotechnical drilling work undertaken in October last year.
Importantly, a valid works authority has been obtained. My department works closely with the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and the Environment, and the independent environmental consultants, to ensure sensitive natural values that have been identified on the site are appropriately managed.
Dr Woodruff - Impossible. Totally impossible.
Mr SPEAKER - Order, member for Franklin, please.
Ms ARCHER - The Department of Justice has mapped the values on the site, which has given them a better understanding of the distribution of the important natural values on the site. This includes not just natural values that could be directly impacted upon by driving over the site, but also things like potential nesting sites and other values that need to be considered.
All the drill hole locations have been carefully selected to manage the sensitive natural values present on the site. The Department of Justice has developed an environment management plan to guide the drilling process. Drilling operations will be conducted in a manner that takes into account the sensitive natural values that have been identified on the site. The department considers it has obtained sufficient advice and information about the natural values on the site that enables the drilling works to be undertaken. Importantly, areas of sensitive natural values have been clearly marked as exclusion zones, and will not be entered into by drilling equipment - whether it is a four-wheel drive, truck or a water tanker, Dr Woodruff. The route through the site for the drilling equipment has been pre-planned to avoid these exclusion zones and will be adhered to throughout the duration of the drilling.
The works authority issued by DPIPWE also contains conditions that must be adhered to, which will protect the values of the site. All surrounding property owners were informed of the planned geotechnical works prior to these commencing.
The department will continue to apply the highest levels of due diligence in preparation for lodging a combined planning scheme amendment and development application for the Northern Regional Prison with the Meander Valley Council at the appropriate time.