House debates

Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Constituency Statements

Lalor Electorate: Chemical Contamination

10:48 am

Photo of Joanne RyanJoanne Ryan (Lalor, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise today in this place, the people's House, to speak for the people I represent in this place. While there are many issues of importance in the federal sphere at the moment, all politics is local. So I rise to support my community's concerns about Transurban's toxic-soil plan for Wyndham. My community have expressed their dismay, their anger and their disbelief that Transurban and their construction partners, John Holland and CPB, plan to store contaminated soil at a site in Wyndham Vale.

Let me state this clearly: I do not support Transurban's toxic-soil plan for Wyndham. Reassurances that it is only a backup plan or that the contaminants of PFAS and asbestos are low level are no comfort in the face of the facts. The site selected by Transurban is not a waste facility. It has no liners, as are required at any landfill, let alone a landfill licensed to take prescribed waste. Nor is it a treatment facility. It is 70 metres from existing homes in a new housing development, with more imminent. It is too close to the Werribee River and a tributary that runs through the site after a deluge.

I cut my political teeth in the nineties fighting CSR's plans to build a toxic dump in Werribee. It got me involved in local campaigning, grassroots activism and the labour movement, and I believe that led me here to stand as a federal representative for the place and community I have called home my entire life. I am baffled that we are hearing talk of plans for extenuating circumstances when there is no talk of a plan detailing a final disposal or treatment facility. I am not confident the backup plan being discussed will have the safety measures in place to protect people and to protect the environment.

The Victorian premier said last week that no decision has yet been made. So my message from the people's house to the people of my community is let Transurban know. Let them know it's not welcome in Wyndham. As welcome as the West Gate Tunnel will be on completion for Wyndham residents, who already pay Transurban tolls on existing roads to do their jobs and to enjoy their free time, this plan to store contaminated soil in Wyndham is ill-considered and my community will fight it. Transurban and their construction partners need to listen to our community and ensure that contaminated soil is taken from source to disposal or treatment facility.

In 1998 I led my communities fight against CSR's planned toxic dump in Werribee. In 2019 I stand here as my community's federal representative and I will fight Transurban's toxic soil plan with my community.