Petition to the Legislative Council: Southern Forests Irrigation Scheme

Later this year I will present a petition to parliament objecting to the Southern Forests Irrigation Scheme.

In anticipation of this, I encourage everybody who supports the majority of members in the local community and principal petitioner Brian Vallentine to print copies and collect at least 20 signatures.

This petition must be returned to my office by 24 June 2019 (details below). This petition must not be altered or otherwise marked up or amended. Only original signatures are permitted.

Please return this Petition by 24 June 2019 to:
Hon. Diane Evers MLC of PO Box 949, West Perth WA 6872

Petition to the Legislative Council: Southern Forests Irrigation Scheme

Of 452 agricultural businesses in the Southern Forests Region, only 68 have chosen to join the SFIS, with farm-owners’ pledges of $10 million to be eclipsed by $59 million of taxpayer funding.

As a result, the scheme will see a minority of local landowners subsidised by significant government support based on stakeholders’ ability to buy-in, with others along the pipeline only able to access the water by purchasing it off their neighbours.

A number of approvals remain pending before the scheme can go ahead, such as the April 2019determination by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) that a full environmental assessment of the SFIS would be required.

Water for the scheme will be pumped from the Donnelly River into a dam at Record Brook.

Diane remains hopeful the EPA assessment may be where this scheme stalls and I’m sure a great number of people will be working to present fair evidence to support such an outcome, motivated by the following factors:

  • The business plan is out of date and relies on old data for the prices and supply of produce; 
  • There is no guarantee that water flows will be sufficient to fill the dam; 
  • The costs of the pipeline installation and routing across private land is out of date; 
  • The destruction of forest for the dam, weir and pipeline is unnecessary and will destroy native bushland, habitat and culturally significant sites; 
  • The water flows past the dam & weir will be altered and have a subsequent impact downstream; 
  • The environments in the dam and the river above the weir will be altered; 
  • The water flows have not been proven to come from the forest rather than from the cleared agricultural land above the Donnelly River weir, where water restrictions impede opportunities to develop these properties; 
  • The properties with access to the scheme water are gaining substantial personal benefit from a very targeted government handout that could be used more equitably by a greater cross section of the community. 

Lewin Block Long Weekend (and Beyond) Blockade

Lewin Block Long Weekend (and Beyond) Blockade

Endless conversation, copious food supply, well-organised camp, and incredibly beautiful surroundings.

This past weekend, Diane spent two days with forest protesters at Lewin block, broadening her understanding of protests.

For Diane, a walk through the recently cleared area, making way for bigger equipment for the really old trees, was eye-opening. There were numerous trees with a diameter larger than Diane’s arm span, with no tell-tale ‘H’ for habitat tree marked on them. These giants will be felled in coming weeks if the government doesn’t step in and put a halt to it.

Anyone who has a thought about going to see this forest, Diane asks you to please act on it. There are lovely, committed people there to welcome you. Don’t let the weather put you off. There’s a lovely fire, and tents and tarps to keep you dry. A well-appointed kitchen with a well-stocked larder awaits your arrival.

Bring a camera, and a pair of boots. Help Save Lewin Forest.

Shark Fin Soup Off the Menu

Efforts to protect worldwide shark populations will reach State Parliament today, with Greens South West MLC Diane Evers to table a Bill aimed at stopping the sale of shark fin products in Western Australia.

Ms Evers, The Greens (WA) fisheries spokesperson, will propose banning the sale of food containing shark fins as part of the Shark Fin Prohibition Bill, with possible fines rising to $250,000.

Corporations will receive the heaviest penalties under the terms of the Bill, while offending individuals will be liable to fines of $50,000.

Shark finning is an offence for federal and WA fisheries and involves removing fins from a live shark and returning it to the ocean to drown.

It is reported that thousands of kilograms of shark fins are imported into Australia each year through loopholes in existing regulations.

There have been previous efforts in Australian jurisdictions such as New South Wales to implement bans on the sale of shark fin food products, such as shark fin soup.

Many jurisdictions have implemented their own specific bans on shark finning, while some, including various US states and territories, have gone even further and implemented direct bans on possessing shark fins.

Ms Evers, who has been vocal in the past about the harmful effects of baited shark drumline trials in South West waters, said the Bill would go some way towards removing threats to open-water shark populations.

QUOTES ATTRIBUTED TO DIANE EVERS MLC:

“This Bill is a clear, measured and important step in our work towards ending the inhumane and wasteful practice of shark finning.

“The international community recognises that shark finning damages species and ecosystems, while shark fins have not been established to offer any scientific health benefits.

“Unfortunately, foods such as shark fin soup continue to be offered in restaurants as a delicacy.

“The introduction of offences in this Bill, which clearly prohibit the sale of food containing shark fins, will close significant loopholes and assist with enforcement in the food and fisheries areas.

“Private individuals making or consuming food containing fins will not be captured by the offence provisions, as long as the product is originally purchased as a whole shark.

“This ensures that the offences are targeted to the commercialisation of the shark finning practice rather than activities of consumers.

“There are also provisions within the Bill to safeguard commercial fishers acting in compliance with fisheries regulations.

“The proposed amendments to the Food Act 2008 will improve food standards and ensure the practice of shark finning is prohibited at each stage of the supply chain.

“This Bill simply seeks to treat shark fin food products the same as others considered unsuitable for consumption and will mirror provisions for existing offences under the Act.

“It does not go as far as the bans implemented in some US states such as California, Hawaii, Texas and New York but will be an effective step towards ending the awful practice of shark finning.

“Even with bans in place, we know that some fishers continue this cruel practice – in 2015, a boat was apprehended in Queensland waters carrying over 3,000 shark fins.

GET IN TOUCH:
Hon. Diane Evers
MLC for South West
(08) 9486 8070

An Elemental Journey Through the South West

An Elemental Journey Through the South West

Monday

Environmental Action Discussion

Diane met with the Dardanup Environmental Action Group on Monday to discuss waste, mining and the environment in “the small South West community whose tip is bigger than its town”.

Lithium processing is experiencing a boom in the resource sector, but the production process has its consequences and the tailings must be responsibly dealt with.

Ensuring South West communities are not negatively impacted by this – in the form of waste management and Cleanaway’s expansion of its Banksia Road landfill site, in Dardanup’s case – is an issue Diane is taking the time to understand.

There may also be the opportunity to consider more proactive and positive management of the process moving forwards that might provide benefit to other towns in the South West.

Tuesday

Augusta Margaret River Climate Action Summit

Climate change mitigation was on the agenda at Surfer’s Point on Tuesday as Diane attended a summit held by Climate Action Augusta Margaret River, welcoming guest speakers Tim Flannery (via video link) and Ben Elton to talk about the challenges posed to society by carbon emissions and human impact on the planet.

The importance of a holistic and integrated approach to the climate emergency was workshopped by Diane and attendees, focussing on collaborative strategies that can incorporate agriculture, transport, youth and housing issues – amongst others – within the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River.

An action plan was developed on the day and a community group will will be tasked to engage this moving forward, which Diane will be paying close interest to.

As an additional treat, Diane also met 11-time surfing world legend and environmental advocate Kelly Slater, along with young Californian Conner Coffin, in town for this weekend’s Margaret River Pro.

  • Views from the Augusta Margaret River Climate Action Summit.

  • Ben Elton speaks to the attendees.

  • The Augusta Margaret River Climate Action Summit.

  • Diane with other attendees of the Augusta Margaret River Climate Action Summit.

  • Views of Surfer’s Point from the Augusta Margaret River Climate Action Summit.

  • Diane with Ben Elton.

  • Diane with Kelly Slater.

  • Diane with Kelly Slater, Conner Coffin (both center) and fellow attendees of the Augusta Margaret River Climate Action Summit.

Wednesday

Consuming Southern Forests Passions

A meeting with one of WA’s own veteran celebrity chefs, regenerative agriculture and a community discussion about the water allocation was on the menu for Diane on a busy Wednesday.

Diane and former Consuming Passions host Ian Parmenter talked about the importance of food tourism in the South West region, encouraging locally run culinary events and high-end travel opportunities.

Following this, Diane met with the team behind the Lower Blackwood LCDC to talk funding, community engagement and a whole-of-landscape, whole-of-community view of agriculture in the area.

Once again the topic of integration was raised, with local producers realising the need for governance that considers the many facets of agriculture and its holistic role in food supply, the economy, environmental conservation and even culture.

A drive to Yanmah led to a chat about one of the higher profile recent issues – the Southern Forests Irrigation Scheme – featuring matters of water security and South West ecology as the focus.

Members of the Don’t Dam the Donnelly, along with other members of the community, are concerned about the scheme — one that benefits only 70 other local growers, despite $59 million of state and federal funding.

These farmers are not happy about the scheme’s impact on the river and the planned dam at Record Brook, and discussed with Diane the need to reassess how water rights are determined.

In a few short days over 1,200 people have signed a petition to stop the SFIS. They want politicians and the tax-paying public to know that the SFIS is not supported by the majority of people in the region.

Diane and local growers concerned by the SFIS.

Thursday

Station to Station: Regional Development

The final day of a busy few across the region began by returning to the issue of lithium and meeting with Bunbury councillor Murray Cook to discuss thoughts on reopening the Bunbury-Greenbushes rail line, which Diane will present a petition to Parliament on in the coming months.

Cr Cook has also expressed interest in Shire of Donnybrook-Balingup, where he was raised, calling for the mine proponents and the State Government to rebuild and open the line to take the timber, spodumene and the tailings off South West roads.

The final stop on the journey was up to the Peel region with focus turning to regional  development issues.

The Peel-Harvey Catchment Council are maintaining a watching brief on the proposed development of Point Grey Marina, where proponents were given a five-year extension on a residential development on Ramsar wetlands in 2017.

The Shire of Murray rejected the development and the PHCC are raising public awareness of how this development and the proposed channel will damage the inlet. Better plans for the Point can be found and Diane will support the community to protect the Estuary.

Diane with members of the Peel-Harvey Catchment Council.

Fridays…

…for Future.

Finally, Diane returned to Perth at the end of the week to once more support the committed students who are maintaining the Greta Thunberg-inspired School Strike 4 Climate movement.

These students shouldn’t have to strike from school every Friday, but they feel they have no choice, because not only is our government not taking serious action on this climate emergency, but Western Australia’s emissions are also rising.

This type of peaceful, but meaningful protest, shows the willingness among the youth of Western Australia to protect the planet for their futures – a willingness shared by the volunteers of the Western Australian Forest Alliance, who will be blockading state forest over the coming long weekend (and beyond).

Please support WAFA to prevent the imminent clear-felling of Karri trees at Lewin forest, largely for wood-chips, by joining their protest.

Diane speaks with the students of the Fridays for Future protest.



Next Week:

Parliament Duties Resume

The Legislative Council resumes on Tuesday, following the long weekend and a two-week recess.

Diane wishes all of her supporters in the South West and beyond a safe long weekend. Stay up to date with Diane’s parliamentary activities by following her on Facebook, Instagram or by joining her mailing list below!

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