Ms O'CONNOR - Minister, we don't understand how you can justify spending $8 million on a new track from an industry that's losing participation; but we have had locals contact us who are - participants in the industry are in decline, just to answer that perplexed look on your face.
We've had locals contact us who are concerned, not only about animal welfare but also about the potential environmental impacts of this track, and we've been sent images which you may have too, of evidence of endangered northern burrowing crayfish.
Ms HOWLETT - Here we go.
Ms O'CONNOR - Is it funny?
Ms HOWLETT - Sorry, no.
Ms O'CONNOR - Do you think it's funny when we are asking questions about threatened species.
Ms HOWLETT - No, feel free. Keep going.
Ms O'CONNOR - Someone's got to. We've also had information provided about eastern barred bandicoots on site. What kind of environmental impact assessment is being undertaken on the new track and will it be referred to the Commonwealth for an Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC) assessment?
Ms HOWLETT - Community consultation started to occur last week and we have more community consultations coming up this Thursday.
Ms O'CONNOR - That's not the question.
Ms HOWLETT - Paul attended the meetings -
Mr ERIKSSON - I ran them.
Ms HOWLETT - Yes - from an environmental point of view and the species identified on that land.
Mr ERIKSSON - An environmental study, as is required, is being undertaken. At this stage we have been advised, informally and unofficially, that there are no endangered or threatened species on that site.
Ms O'CONNOR - Who is undertaking that work?
Mr ERIKSSON - I cannot recall the name of the expert. It is a subcontractor to our engineers. There will be a report that is provided as part of the development application (DA), as will the lighting report, the traffic report, all the reports required under the DA.
I have been advised at the community consultation, and I have also been advised by participants or members - locals there - that there were endangered species, and by people there that there weren't endangered species; so, there seems to be a contention. I am not going to comment on that. However, I committed very clearly to the 26 individuals who attended that - and I spoke to the majority personally - that there would full reports of the natural values, environmental issues, the impact of the water, the traffic, the light, the noise - that would be made available prior to the DA being lodged.
Ms O'CONNOR - Can we put that question on notice: who or which consultant is undertaking the environmental impact assessment on the new Latrobe track?
Mr ERIKSSON - That's just the name of the consultants. They're locally based consultants, and yes.
Ms O'CONNOR - Yes, minister?
Mr ERIKSSON - Sorry, through the minister. I apologise.
Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you.