Adjourned debate on motion of Hon. J.M.A. Lensink:
That the Environment, Resources and Development Committee inquire into and report on the Environment Protection Authority's Environment Protection (Waste to Resources) policy and the standard for the production of use of waste derived fill.
(Continued from 27 October 2010.)
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (23:27): I will be brief, given the hour, but I could not let some of these comments from the government go past without responding. I too, like the Hon. Mark Parnell, have an open mind on this issue. I think broadly there is a lot of support for the work of the EPA in developing these policies and so forth, but there is no harm in having a look at them, particularly when statutory responsibility to look at these policies has not gone through the process that it ought to have.
It beggars belief that the government keeps opposing things like this. It is not going to change the world; the sky is not going to fall in; we are not going to disallow the policy; and things are not going to stop operating the way they are. It is almost as if they have an attitude of, 'We're from the government and we have got it all covered; don’t worry; parliament doesn't need any oversight of these things.'
In particular, the first policy in this motion has a huge impact on the local government sector. They do the lion’s share of implementing our waste policies and, from what they have said, in certain instances, certain councils, particularly in the country, are having difficulty; they would like some help and they think that some of this is unreasonable. So what is the harm in getting everybody in to tell us what they think? We may well be able to make recommendations to the government that improve the policy.
In relation to the second one, which is the standard for production and use of waste-derived fill, I am bemused that the government says that this policy is already being reviewed, when the draft came out only in 2009. So, I think it is another case of the government has decided that it will announce a review to use that as an argument to block the parliament from reviewing something. The government really ought to appreciate the role of the standing committees. We can do some really useful work that it does not need to be scared of.
It is not going to get a bad headline; in fact, it is more likely to get bad headlines by blocking our reviews, which is what has happened in the instance of this committee. I will continue to push for this committee to do its work, because we are well remunerated. With those words, I thank honourable members for their contributions and would like the government to review its resistance to looking at any policy which is not one of its own making, because it does not really have as much to be afraid of as it thinks it does.