HON ALISON XAMON (North Metropolitan) [9.46 pm]: I rise because I want to make some comments about the Ocean Reef marina development. Today, I want to speak about my concerns around the community consultation process. The reason that I want to speak about this this evening is that it has been in only the last few weeks that a number of members of the local community have become aware of the huge amount of damage that is about to be done to the bushland in that area as a result of this development. This is the bushland that I have spoken about before, which is part of —
Hon Michael Mischin: I am having difficulty hearing the member.
The PRESIDENT: I agree with you, member. We all know that Hon Alison Xamon has a very lovely, soft voice and sometimes can be difficult to hear above the hubbub of this chamber. If members want to have meetings about other matters, please take them outside on urgent parliamentary business so that she can be heard by Hansard.
Hon ALISON XAMON: Thank you, Madam President. I was talking about the huge amount of damage that has been done to the bushland around the proposed Ocean Reef development. This is the bushland that used to be part of Bush Forever site 325. As I have previously said in this place on a number of occasions, this area has been noted as one of the few parts of Bush Forever 325 that is unlikely to be impacted by sea level change and the expected coastal inundation and erosion, so it is a particularly special part of the Bush Forever site. But today I received on the steps of Parliament a petition that contains hundreds of signatures, many of which are from people who have previously been very supportive of this project. I have raised in this place many times over the course of the last few years my concerns about the environmental impact of this development. It is substantial and we have long deemed that this particular marine environment has been worthy of our highest level of protection. For decades, the terrestrial site has been recognised as requiring protection. Community groups have been lavishing attention on this site for some time and they have been working to maintain and enhance this bushland.
It is clear that something has gone terribly wrong in the community consultation process. It is clear because it is only now that people understand that 1 000 new homes are going to be built there. It is only now that people understand that the marine park has been irreversibly compromised, including, as has been discussed before, the destruction of the abalone reef. It is only now that people understand that this particular Bush Forever site will be irreversibly compromised. Why is it only now that people are asking why so much area was excised from the marine park and why so much more area than the total area to be cleared has been excised from the Bush Forever protections? I am now getting repeated concerns through my office from constituents who are shocked and are starting to grieve as they become aware of the scale of the destruction that is about to be undertaken. I suggest that the fact that this development was undertaken as two separate environmental processes may have caused some of this confusion.
As we know, the full public environmental review process applied only to the marine part of the project. The land side of the project has been handled far more quietly through the metropolitan region scheme amendment process and was allowed to be a negotiated planning outcome, despite that never having been part of the original Bush Forever plan for this site. Therefore, most of the residents of the area are finding out only now about the urban development and the bushland destruction. I suggest that this two-part process has led to that outcome.
Some residents have been following this project closely for a very long time. They have pointed out that they were often overwhelmed with the release of thousands of pages of technical detail at the same time. They have reported back to me their concerns about the limited time frames they were given to read and understand that material and provide feedback. For example, appendix H of the design and capability update quietly doubled the area for housing. This was not discussed with the community or brought forward in any of the public communications. The best that the community can guess is that this information was known to DevelopmentWA sometime around 2018, but the residents found out about it only this year. I maintain, as does the community, that this kind of substantial change requires dedicated community members to do the work of effectively several full-time employees and to read thousands of pages in order to be able to uncover that level of detail. That is absolutely unacceptable. Instead, it should have been publicly discussed. There should have been no surprises for residents about the level of detail. There is a strong feeling in the community that the full-throated commitment to this project, and the previous strong support from the community for an upgraded marine facility, has effectively been used to push through changes without appropriately informing the community and providing genuine avenues for feedback.
I note that another working group has been formed for the Ocean Reef marina. I also note that I am getting feedback from the community working group on Subi East. That group has been coming to me with a number of frustrations, including that different members of the working group are being provided with different information and, further, that non-community members of the working group believe that things have been agreed or that plans have been settled prior to even being discussed within the working group. Finally, they believe that the information provided to the working group is often biased to achieve the aims of DevelopmentWA. This includes concerns that specific advice and requests from agencies are being misrepresented. I think all members would agree that that is a very serious concern. I have previously urged the Minister for Environment to pay extremely close attention to the final design of Ocean Reef marina and how the work will be undertaken. I am hearing from the community, nevertheless, that the fauna management plans are not meeting community expectations, and that those plans are absent for the clearing that is being undertaken right now.
We know that even substantial offsets, such as those provided for this project, still result in a net loss of environmental value. We are incurring a great loss in order to create this project. We need to be absolutely up-front and honest about what it is costing us, and up-front and honest about what we are doing to minimise the damage and maximise the triple bottom line. I can tell members that the residents want answers. They want to make sure that their concerns are addressed before we go any further.