PROPOSED SELECT COMMITTEE ON LAKE COWAL GOLDMINE
Debate resumed from an earlier hour.
The Hon. J. P. HANNAFORD (Leader of the Opposition) [2.30]: Why is the Government avoiding any examination of this issue? We do not need to examine the material considered by the commission of inquiry; we must look forward. What were the findings of the inquiry? I should like to draw the attention of the House to some aspects of those findings. The report was prepared by William Simpson and Kevin Cleland, the Chairman and Deputy Chairman respectively of the Office of the Commissioners of Inquiry for Environment and Planning. I am sure the House would acknowledge that there are no two people who are more eminent or held in greater respect in the community for their ability to handle these types of inquiries with skill and independence. They have extensive experience in environmental assessment and planning. I worked with both men and assure the House that one would be hard pressed to find more experienced people in this field. In the executive summary to their report they said:
The report goes on to make this following interesting comment:
On weighing and balancing the scientific and technical evidence before the Inquiry we are satisfied that the impact of the Lake Cowal Gold Project on the environment of Lake Cowal will be low and will not be ecologically significant in the short or long term.
That comment must be emphasised when considering the subsequent direction that was taken when dealing with this report. The summary continued:
The contrary views of some parties are not supported by the evidence.
In the summary the commissioners make the following important comments - around which, it is now clear from papers subsequently made available, this issue revolves:
Nevertheless, the Company and government agencies consider that the remaining risk and uncertainty requires extensive monitoring procedures to ensure the mine and associated facilities maintain a low environmental impact and if variations occur they are quickly detected and remedied.
The main issue which remains in dispute, other than whether the mine should be approved or not, is the allowable cyanide concentration in the tailings discharged after processing the ore. The Department of Urban Affairs and Planning, Environment Protection Authority, National Parks and Wildlife Service and parties opposed to the mine forcefully argue for a lower criteria than is proposed by the Company and the Department of Mineral Resources.
The summary concludes as follows:
This issue raises significant matters in relation to conservation and the level of protection required for native wildlife, particularly birds and including threatened species. We have considered the evidence at length having regard to ecologically sustainable development which requires the effective integration of economic and environmental considerations in decision-making, and the national and international conservation significance of Lake Cowal which highlights its sensitivity. We have concluded that a maximum cyanide level of 50 mg/L CN(WAD) as proposed by the Company should apply to the tailings discharge. We also recognise the need for the conservation of biodiversity and ecological integrity to be assured at Lake Cowal. Consequently, we recommend that as well as the extensive monitoring proposed by the conditions of consent the Company fully fund a waterbird conservation program to be undertaken jointly with the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
The issue at hand is to examine the process and to have available the necessary documents to do so. Those documents can only be made available in full to the House if they are produced according to a resolution of the House. I move:
We are satisfied the Lake Cowal Gold Project will bring positive economic and social benefits to Bland Shire and the State and that it will not compromise the recognised national and international conservation values of Lake Cowal in the short or long term, subject to the conditions of consent we recommend to control and mitigate potential environment impacts.
The House divided.
That this debate be now adjourned to a later hour of the sitting.
Mr Bull Rev. Nile
Mrs Chadwick Dr Pezzutti
Mrs Forsythe Mr Ryan
Miss Gardiner Mr Samios
Mr Gay Mrs Sham-Ho
Dr Goldsmith Mr Rowland Smith
Mr Hannaford Mr Tingle
Miss Kirkby Tellers,
Mr Moppett Mr Cohen
Mrs Nile Mr Lynn
Dr Burgmann Mr Obeid
Mr Dyer Ms Saffin
Mr Egan Mr Shaw
Mrs Isaksen Ms Staunton
Mr Johnson Mrs Symonds
Mr Kaldis Tellers,
Mr Macdonald Ms Burnswoods
Mr Manson Mr Vaughan
Mr Jobling Mrs Arena
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to.