HON ALISON XAMON (North Metropolitan) [5.41 pm]: I rise tonight to make a few comments about the Shenton Park Royal Perth Rehabilitation Hospital site because two significant things have happened.

On the weekend I participated in a rally of over 300 people at which I spoke. As a result of that rally, more than 250 people sent handwritten letters, which were delivered on Monday, calling on the Minister for Environment to save the bushland. I have stated many times that this particular patch of bushland not only is precious to the local community, but also has value to the entire state of WA. Broadly, our planning policies and strategies already require us to take the best care of this bushland, as has been demonstrated many times.

The other significant thing that happened is that I recently received formal advice from the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions about the proposed clearing of that land. The officer advice and recommendation is very clear: the reports on the environmental values of the site were done prior to Perth’s iconic banksia woodlands being listed as a threatened ecological community, but now that is the case, the woodlands are recognised and the site contains them. The DBCA analysis of key taxa and habitat suggests that this is very likely to be an instance of banksia woodland floristic community type 24. That means that amongst the various types of banksia woodland, it is particularly significant and particularly endangered. The conservation advice for the banksia woodland states that a high priority action is to prevent vegetation clearance, fragmentation or detrimental modification of remnants of the threated ecological community—for example, during residential and associated infrastructure development. The advice went on to state that areas that form important connections, such as wildlife corridors, should be considered for inclusion in formal reserve tenure or other conservation-related tenure and that other vegetation remnants near patches of the TEC should be retained where they are important for connectivity. It is solid advice and is exactly what the community has been saying. It is difficult being right all the time, but there we go!

The officer’s recommendation goes further and, once again, it is exactly what the community has been saying. It states that the validity of clearing a corridor of banksia woodland linking to a Bush Forever site for the purposes of reducing fire risk to the proposed adjacent developments is questioned and that other means of reducing fire risk should be explored. Amongst the documents I received was a 2017 environmental consultant’s report, which supports the clearing. The community has already raised some significant concerns about the completeness of this report, noting specifically that it lacks any acknowledgement of the banksia woodland and the approved conservation advice for dealing with banksia woodland, that the site is within six kilometres of a critical habitat radius from a Carnaby’s cockatoo major roost site, that the Karrakatta central and south vegetation complex is substantially unrepresented in areas secured for conservation, and that the value of the ecological linkage is discussed only in terms of 10 species of small birds. It is clear from the advice of the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions on this matter that this bushland should not be cleared in any way and that it should instead be preserved and protected, and that those few currently disturbed areas should be enhanced. It is clear from the actions we have seen that LandCorp does not want to hear that advice, which, frankly, is ridiculous. Why on earth do we have a situation in which one government agency is attempting to dodge the advice of another government agency?

I remind members that this is a really solvable matter. Nothing has been destroyed yet—yay. That bushland and threatened ecological community can still be saved. It can exist harmoniously with infill and be absolutely consistent with state planning policies. We just need to make sure that we are designing it better and building it better. Once again, I am calling on the Minister for Planning to think about what is happening here. We really need to look at why on earth we would need to go ahead in the way LandCorp wants when we could have something that the entire community wants and that is better for the environment.


Portfolio Category: 
Parliamentary Type: