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Damning senate inquiry report buries Perth Freight Link

Media Release
Scott Ludlam 6 Mar 2017

The snap senate inquiry into environmental breaches of the Perth Freight Link project has handed down a devastating report, unequivocally stating the project is proceeding in breach of state and federal environmental conditions, and works should immediately cease, the Australian Greens said today.

"This report is the most damning I have seen in my time in the senate. It makes clear what a disaster the freight link has been from the outset," Australian Greens Co-Deputy Leader and Senator for WA Scott Ludlam said today.

"The evidence the committee heard about repeated breaches of environmental conditions at the Beeliar wetlands is impossible to ignore: work on site must immediately cease.

"Failure to adequately survey nesting areas for endangered cockatoos, insufficient trapping and relocation of marsupials in the woodlands, asbestos-laden dust coating residents homes: Premier Colin Barnett has quite literally bulldozed ahead with no regard for the damage he's doing.

"The contempt on display from the Barnett and Turnbull governments is astounding. This report clearly lays out the multiple instances where they seem to consider themselves above the law. 

"It's thanks to community campaigners on the ground that the committee was able to consider these breaches in such detail. This is the same community that Colin Barnett has been ignoring, and the same community that will send him packing this Saturday," Senator Ludlam said.

Continuation of construction of the Perth Freight Link in the face of significant environmental breaches

List of recommendations

Recommendation 1

2.93 The committee recommends that, pursuant to subsection 144(2A) of the Environment Protection And Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, the Minister for the Environment suspends the Roe 8 construction works until he has ascertained that all the conditions of the approval issued for the Roe 8 works have been met by the Western Australian government and by relevant contractors.

Recommendation 2

2.94 The committee recommends that—whatever the outcome of the Western Australian state election taking place on 11 March 2017—the Commonwealth works with the state government and other stakeholders to develop productive and economically viable infrastructure projects in Western Australia that incorporate rigorous environmental assessments and conditions.

Recommendation 3

2.95 The committee recommends that the Commonwealth government act urgently to amend the EPBC Act to provide for emergency listings of threatened species and ecological communities, and to consider addressing the effect of section 158A of the EPBC Act which currently prevents consideration of threatened species or ecological communities which are listed after the time a referral is made.

Recommendation 4

2.96 The committee recommends that the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) conduct an audit of the Perth Freight Link project including in relation to:

  • whether appropriate steps were taken to protect the Commonwealth's interests and obtain value for money in respect to the $1.2 billion in Commonwealth funding committed to the Western Australian government for the Perth Freight Link project;
  • the effectiveness of federal environmental protection laws, in particular the extent to which the Department of the Environment and Energy:
  • complied with its own policies (specifically including Offsets policy and protection of species with Recovery Plans),
  • adequately assessed impacts on matters of national significance during the assessment process,
  • adequately investigated and enforced compliance with approval conditions,
  • adequately responded to evidence significant and systematic breaches with management plans were being ignored by the state government;
  • the adequacy of penalties to the approval holder for non-compliance under federal environmental protection laws; and
  • political interference with the environmental assessment and compliance process.
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