House debates

Thursday, 3 June 2021


Minchinbury: Environment

11:33 am

Photo of Chris BowenChris Bowen (McMahon, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy) Share this | | Hansard source

Unfortunately, I have to rise again in the House to bring the attention of the parliament to the plight of the residents of Minchinbury, who are again dealing with the terrible odour and smell from the Bingo waste facility. The Minister for the Environment in the main chamber was boasting the other day that she opened the new Bingo facility. She obviously has no idea of the harm and distress that has been caused by the Bingo facility to the people of Minchinbury. This is not some nuisance or some inconvenient smell. This is a debilitating, toxic odour which the good people of Minchinbury have been putting up with for months. As I've said in the House before, Bingo claims that it's because of the rain event in March. If the rain event in March means the people of Minchinbury have to put up with this toxic smell for months afterwards, then their processes are not good enough.

Not only was the Minister for the Environment at Bingo recently but the chief executive of the NSW Environment Protection Agency was also at the same ribbon-cutting. When the people of Minchinbury were putting up with this smell, it was not a time for a self-congratulatory ribbon-cutting, and the chief executive of the EPA showed a grave error in judgement, in my view, in being at the site when the EPA was meant to be investigating Bingo. I heard the EPA on Ben Fordham's show on 2GB yesterday, and I give due credit to Ben Fordham for following this issue and giving a voice to the people of Minchinbury. He, quite rightly, held the EPA representative to close account.

Bingo has now put in gas flares, which they say will deal with the problem. I certainly hope it does. They say now any odours that the people of Minchinbury have to put up with come from other facilities. It's true there are other facilities surrounding Minchinbury, and it is true that Bingo may not be responsible for every single odour. But this odour is a particular one. It's a particularly toxic one, and the people of Minchinbury know what it is. And if this smell keeps up, it will not be good enough for Bingo or the EPA or anybody else to wash their hands and say it's not them. So far, all the EPA has administered to Bingo, which is a multimillion-dollar company, is a $500 admin fee, which is an insult to the people of Minchinbury. It's an insult to them and what they have to put up with every day.

The state member for Mount Druitt, Edmond Atalla, has been a champion. So has the Mayor of Blacktown, Councillor Bleasdale. I also pay tribute to Councillor Carol Israel. The three of us attended a meeting in Minchinbury a couple of Saturdays ago—a public protest against the Bingo smell. I was very pleased to be there. The mayor and Mr Atalla and I issued a joint statement yesterday. I pay tribute to Trevor Govender, who arranged the protest a few weeks ago. There's another protest on Sunday which unfortunately I cannot attend due to a prior commitment outside of Sydney, but I will be there in spirit. I will be backing the people of Minchinbury all the way, every single step of the way, until this is fixed.

Bingo keeps inviting me out to the site. I'm happy to go out to the site once the issue has been fixed. I will go with Mr Atalla and councillors and community representatives. I am not going to go by myself. I want community representatives there with me. If Bingo thinks this issue has been fixed, they can explain it to the people who have to live with this smell every single day. The rally on Sunday will be outside the site in Eastern Creek. Bingo has declined to address the community.

Enough phone calls, enough complaints have been lodged, enough protest rallies, enough speeches in parliament. I'd like to come to this chamber and talk about something else at some point—something positive about Minchinbury. But while the people of Minchinbury are putting up with this, we will keep the pressure on. As I said before, Minchinbury is a great place to live. It should be well known as the first vineyard in Sydney. It should be well known because of the famous crashing jet, which used to be the Penfolds logo, which still stands at the entrance to Minchinbury. It should be known as where Greg Combet grew up when his father was working for Penfolds vineyards. Instead it's known and getting all this publicity because Bingo is not doing its job. Frankly, the EPA has not been doing its job.

Again, this is not about politics. I give due credit to Matt Kean, the New South Wales Minister for Energy and Environment, who answers all my texts and all my calls and responds to me every time I raise this with him. The EPA is responsible for policing this. A $500 admin fee is an insult. Bingo's lackadaisical approach thus far has been insulting. I welcome the fact they've now put the gas flares in, but I want to see real action. I want to see this smell disappearing. I want to see the people of Minchinbury being able to live in the circumstances which they deserve to, which is free of odour, free of smells, free of the pong from Bingo. I want to see them getting on with the job and supporting the Minchinbury Jets and the other great sporting teams on a Saturday and not having to put up with these smells.