I seek leave to make an explanation before directing a question to the Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation regarding legal proceedings by his department.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I will attempt to give the briefest summary I can of the events as I understand them. In 2008, Carramatta Holdings cleared and levelled sand dunes in a locality known as Ceduna Waters. Upon an intervention by the local council and the Coast Protection Board, Carramatta was forced to cease works as development approval had not been sought. Despite Carramatta's attempt to rectify the issue, in October 2008 the Coast Protection Board, together with the Native Vegetation Council, instituted proceedings in the Environment Court which made interim orders in November that year requiring Carramatta to collect sand which had originated from the levelled sand dunes and move it to designated stockpile areas. Carramatta undertook the sand removal works.
In September 2009, a council-commissioned report was released setting out a rehabilitation plan which involved the construction of three large sand dunes on the impacted land which was accepted by the Coast Protection Board and the Native Vegetation Council. Implementation of the plan was delayed from 2010 to 2012 due to delays within the Native Vegetation Council. In 2001, the plan was reviewed and concluded that, due to regeneration and other changes, a complete revision of it was required. The revised report was provided to Carramatta and the Coast Protection Board in March 2012 which was subsequently rejected by the Coast Protection Board and the Native Vegetation Council.
Following this, both Carramatta and the residents of Ceduna Waters wrote to the Coast Protection Board supporting the variation of the rehabilitation plan. The council also wrote to the Coast Protection Board in November 2012 supporting the submissions of the residents' group. The matter then bounced around the courts until the Magistrates Court ruled in June 2016 that proceedings against Carramatta be permanently stayed due to Carramatta's sole director being unfit to stand trial.
I understand that during the government's 2014 country cabinet, the Premier and the minister both met with the residents' group to discuss solutions. The residents' group expressed to the government that under no circumstances did they want the sand dunes returned to the area, as outlined in the original rehabilitation plan. My questions to the minister are:
1.How much has the government spent on legal and other expenses pursuing Carramatta Holdings?
2.Does the government intend further pursuing this matter?
3.Given that the Coast Protection Board does not have enough funding to undertake proper protection of our coastline at the moment and cuts to the Native Vegetation Council under this government, is this an appropriate use of taxpayer funding?
The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Climate Change) ( 14:27 ): I thank the honourable member for her most important question and her excellent summary of events to date. I think I have given quite a detailed response to a similar question on this matter in previous years. It has been going for some time. Whilst there are many things that I would like to say, I am, in fact, constrained.
Criminal proceedings for breach of section 26 of the Native Vegetation Act 1991 have commenced, I am advised, and hearings are ongoing. Given the court proceedings, I will not be providing any commentary on this matter, except to provide a very broad comment that the government remains committed to seeking the best possible outcome for local residents, the environment and the wider community.