Wednesday, 11 September 2019
When I rose to speak for the first time, in October 2015, I said that I believed in an unwritten contract between the dead, the living and the unborn. We are the product of those who have come before us and we should always seek to steward what we have for the next generation. We are to be stewards of the liberties, institutions, prosperity and values that have shaped us as a country. But back then I neglected to talk about stewarding our environment. Tonight, I want to make a postscript to my maiden speech and affirm that the Australian environment—the land and the waterways and the creatures that inhabit them—are also our responsibility. We're called to steward our natural assets and, where necessary, to protect them from those who would damage or destroy them.
Tonight, I rise on behalf of my community in the Peel region to oppose the proposed dredging of the Peel-Harvey Estuary by Tian An Australia as part of the major development on Point Grey, which lies on the undeveloped coast of the Peel-Harvey Estuary. I oppose it primarily because I believe in the sovereignty of local communities to make decisions about how they conserve and develop their environment. The Bindjareb people, the First Australians in my constituency, have long been custodians of the waterways—for many generations back to the present. The Murray Mandurah community also shares this responsibility, and together we are all stewards of the beautiful Peel-Harvey Estuary, a body of water larger than Sydney Harbour, teeming with marine life and brimming with natural beauty. We, therefore, through our local governments, have sovereignty over this natural asset and should have a say about how development takes place. We're not antiprogress, but we are rightly cautious about development, as we are the ones most affected by it.
The proposed dredge, 2.5 kilometres in length, running east to west, will cut the estuary in half and was opposed by the Shire of Murray because the development application did not detail a dredging plan, a spoil disposal plan or a financial plan to demonstrate that dredge was technically, environmentally or economically sound. This decision was made by the Shire of Murray Council, led by President David Bolt, in June of this year, and I back it. This will be contested next month at the state administrative tribunal. My view is that companies like Tian An Australia, backed by Hong Kong listed shareholder Tian An China Investments Company, have no stake in our local community and should not be able to dredge our waterways without the consent of local people.
There are many environmental and economic questions that are yet to be answered, but, in the time remaining, I want to give voice to some of the local leadership. George Wally, an Indigenous elder, says:
This is our country, our Boodja, the land. And the waterway is part of our country. So when you make decisions to look at what you have in front of you, make the right decision for all people.
Damien Bell, the president of the Mandurah Licensed Fishermen's Association, representing 11 fishing families with five generations of history within the estuary, says:
A man-made access channel will fill up over time, requiring frequent maintenance dredging.
The access channel will act as a giant trap catching mobile week wracks and turn into an anoxic sludge pit.
Our position has not changed over the past 5 years in that we strongly oppose the dredging of the access channel and inland marina to house 300 oversize boats.
Jane O'Malley, CEO of the Peel-Harvey Catchment Council, says that the Peel-Harvey Catchment Council are:
… of the opinion that the proposed point Grey Marina, including the construction of a 2.5km navigation channel across the Harvey Estuary is the single highest risk development to the ongoing health of the Ramsar-Listed Peel Harvey Estuary.
The significant dredging required, and the residual development will have major deleterious impacts to the fishing industry. The proposed channel will be in the middle of the most prolific breeding ground for crabs in the estuary.
Every year we celebrate Crab Fest, a Western Australian institution, right in the heart of Canning. But I want to finish with Frank Nannup, another Indigenous elder, who says it best. He says:
Point Grey must not go ahead. And that's for not just my community … But this is for the whole community. When I see things that are still the same as I've seen when I was a kid and there still the same now, what a fantastic place. And my grandkids see that the same as I saw it. But if you made change, it'll never be the same again. So I ask yous, keep this for all our kids future to see, all of them, not just mine.
House adjourned at 19:59