This speech is in relation to the report of the Environment, Resources and Development Committee on Waste to Resources.
Adjourned debate on motion of Hon. Carmel Zollo:
That the report of the committee on Waste to Resources be noted.
(Continued from 6 February 2013.)
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (16:26): I rise to make some remarks in relation to this report which was a reference to the Environment, Resources and Development Committee at my instigation. Some of the brief history is that the two EPPs, which are EPA policies, were gazetted but at a time that did not enable the committee to look at them because of the 2010 election. So these matters were referred to the committee on 24 November 2010 and this report was published on 17 December 2012. It took some two years to produce, which probably does not bear any relationship to the amount of evidence that was received.
The matters were raised with me by particular stakeholders, and I put those comments on the record when I moved the motion so I will not go through them again. These particular policies are, as I said, policies of the EPA. The agency Zero Waste SA is required to implement sections of them. I do note that Zero Waste is about to suffer the Treasurer's axe, having been described by the former minister for the environment in estimates committees as the jewel in the crown of environment agencies in South Australia.
For these particular EPPs we had findings and recommendations. One of the policies relates to the progressive banning of certain substances to landfill—and that is a laudable aim—but we have had some concerns raised particularly by the local government sector that some of those things are difficult, particularly in relation to regional councils.
The other matter is waste-derived fill, and I think sections of the construction industry expressed difficulty with that because they would be required to reclassify certain soils which would have, in the past, been described as clean fill. They were concerned that the level of testing would add considerable cost to those projects.
We heard evidence from a few stakeholders, not as many as I had anticipated, I must say. We heard from the EPA on several occasions, and we also heard evidence from the Central Local Government Association on Eyre Peninsula, Civil Contractors Federation, Business SA, the LGA and the Australian Landfill Owners Association.
The Australian Landfill Owners Association was one of the other groups that came in to give verbal evidence. They provided some disturbing evidence to the committee, which I would like to refer to. On page 6 of the report, the Australian Landfill Owners Association, it is reported, provided evidence to us that there is waste diversion being undertaken at a particular site in Gillman, where they question whether the environmental income (that is, reduce, re-use, recycle) is actually being used. They raised concerns that it is potentially contaminating an estuarine environment, and I think that is of particular concern.
I had concerns as well that the report did not adequately cover some of the issues that had been raised. So, the other Liberal member of the committee and I lodged a minority report, which seems to be something I feel required to do with this particular committee on a regular basis. In that minority report, we said the following:
In spite of the EPA's amendments to Waste to Resources policies, industry concerns remain. Ongoing dialogue as referred to in the majority report is welcome; however Liberal Members understand that lack of certainty, the Government's priorities in waste diversion and guidelines for resource recovery are still issues.
The EPA's lack of knowledge of the processes of resource recovery facilities has led to the EPP guidelines being weak, which is a deterrent to investment and places industry at risk.
The EPP includes ambiguous terms and subjective classifications rather than clearly defined guidelines.
With those comments, I support the motion.