Balpool Piggery

About this Item
SpeakersJones The Hon Richard


The Hon. R. S. L. JONES [10.19]: For the past two days I have drawn to the attention of the House the problem with the approval of the Balpool piggery development. This is the last time I will speak on this issue on the adjournment debate for some time. The people opposed to the piggery development believe that the Minister for Urban Affairs and Planning and other Ministers have a number of questions to answer in relation to the approval process. I shall detail those questions. Did the Minister for Urban Affairs and Planning make his decision to approve the Balpool piggery development - with 52,000 pigs on the flood plain of two rivers, the Edward and Neimur rivers in the Murray-Darling Basin - against the clear intent of Murray Regional Environmental Plan No. 2 because he thought it may assist in improving water quality, or because he was pressured?

Did the Treasurer and the Premier, at a meeting in Melbourne not long after they were elected to office and following being told that Bunge Meat Industries Pty Ltd was having problems with an appeal to the Land and Environment Court on the first development's council consent, make certain commitments to Bunge Meat Industries that they would ensure the development went ahead? To avoid any risk of appeal, did they then advise Bunge Meat Industries to make it a State environmental planning policy 34 with a commission of inquiry so there could be no right of a merit-based appeal under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act and that the Minister would have the final say? The commissioner of the inquiry, Kevin Cleeland, made recommendations which included halving the size of the piggery due to the unacceptable
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environmental impact of odour and the upgrading and construction of substantial levees to attempt to protect the site from a one in 100 year flood. How does the Minister justify the exclusion of these recommendations from the consent conditions?

How does the Minister justify overlooking the intent of MREP No. 2, which expressly prohibits intensive livestock keeping on flood liable lands to protect water quality, and not utilising the precautionary principle, especially given that MREP No. 2 is fully supported by the Environment Protection Authority, the Department of Land and Water Conservation, the Murray-Darling Basin Commission, the Murray Total Catchment Management Committee and his own department? What justification is there for the Minister ignoring his department's conservative estimates that the development site is at least two in three liable and that when the same mapping criteria used for the first stage of MREP No. 2 mapping are applied to Balpool, it will be mapped as flood liable, thereby prohibiting this piggery development?

Why did the Minister not apply the precautionary principle and refuse this proposal outright or defer his decision until the mapping, which is currently under way, is completed? The Minister had in his possession, as did the Premier's office and various government agencies, a series of photographs taken during the relatively minor flood last month that resulted from the Hume Dam releases. Those photographs clearly show floodwater on the floodway where the compost is to be disposed of, right up to the banks of the existing piggery's effluent ponds. What possible excuse does the Minister have for ignoring this and permitting compost disposal on the floodway?

How many millions of dollars have already been quoted as needed to clean up the Murray-Darling Basin? Is it consistent and good planning to add to the problem for the possibility of only 10 jobs on site, especially when all governments - Liberal and Labor, State and Federal - have supposedly recognised the urgent need to improve water quality for long-term survival and productivity in the basin? Is this decision consistent with cleaning up the basin? Why did the Minister ignore the repeatedly expressed objections by the South Australian Department of Environment and Natural Resources to this development and railroad it through?

Why did the Minister not tell this foreign company, Bunge Meat Industries, to purchase a property at relatively minor expense compared to the cost of the development and locate the 52,000 pigs away from our rivers? The Minister's own department advised Bunge Meat Industries to do just that early in the piece, as did the National Parks and Wildlife Service. However, Bunge Meat Industries, aided, abetted and supported by the Department of State and Regional Development, did not even consider this suggestion because, as it already owned Balpool, that was the economical location of choice, even though it is environmentally ridiculous. If the Government does not respect its own planning instrument, the MREP No. 2, and its intent, why should anyone else? How does the Government reconcile its disregard of rural people and their concerns for water quality by allowing this piggery development to proceed at this location. [Time expired.]

Motion agreed to.
House adjourned at 10.24 p.m. until
Tuesday, 26 November 1996, at 2.30 p.m.