House debates

Thursday, 18 June 2020

Constituency Statements

Gilmore Electorate: Manyana Matters Environmental Association

11:17 am

Photo of Fiona PhillipsFiona Phillips (Gilmore, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The Manyana community has had a harrowing year this year. The bushfires that ravaged so much of our coast burned the majority of the bushland in this beautiful coastal village. The bushland is right up against the homes, and you can see how close the flames came. Alex and June Frew heartbreakingly suffered burns to 50 per cent of their bodies battling the fire at their Manyana home. They have been through a lot, but their struggles aren't over.

The community is now looking to the government to make sure that no local threatened species are harmed by a development that was approved 12 years ago. Clearing was due to begin and a fence has been constructed, but so far the community has fought hard to delay that from going ahead. It was Alex and June's first task to protest this development after leaving hospital—that is how strongly the community feels about this.

There is no doubt that circumstances have changed significantly in that time. You only have to visit Manyana and look around to see that. A reassessment of the environmental conditions is certainly warranted. We don't know what impact the bushfires have had on our flora and fauna, but, as at right now, the government has not done the necessary ecological audits so we can know exactly what this summer meant for our native species. This is absolutely critically needed information. We may have hundreds of newly threatened species; we may have species who have lost all their habitat bar this one small parcel of land. We just don't know, and that is why Labor has been calling on the government to do this audit.

With the latest delay to work starting on the site, the environment minister has the opportunity to intervene and ensure the proper environmental assessments of this changed landscape are undertaken. I wrote to the minister on 15 May and again on 1 June, stressing the urgent need for clarity and review. I am still waiting for her response.

I recently met with members of the Manyana Matters Environmental Association. They are a passionate group and committed to the cause, but they feel exhausted. They have spent the year fighting, first the bushfires and now to protect our precious native wildlife in the Federal Court. But, as Bill put it, why do they have to do the government's job? Where is the minister? The community deserves those assurances that this development is not going to do more harm to an already fragile ecosystem. People like Alex and June shouldn't be left to take up this fight—they have fought enough. So, again, I ask the Minister for the Environment to stand up and give the Manyana community the answers they deserve before it's too late.