Petition Pursues Promise to Protect Paradise

South West Greens MLC Diane Evers will continue to campaign on behalf of community calls to protect the South West environment for future generations when she tables a petition in WA Parliament today to halt the controversial resort and housing development proposed for Margaret River’s Gnarabup Headland.

Ms Evers has backed efforts by the local community and protest group Preserve Gnarabup to stop the development from going ahead and has urged the WA Government to protect the narrow strip of fragile undeveloped limestone karst headland from the proposed development.

992 people have signed the petition to protect Gnarabup, with over 20,000 more signatures lending support to the petition through an online equivalent that is, unfortunately, ineligible for consideration by WA Parliament. Despite more than a decade of opposition by the community, the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River had approved the request for a subdivision to allow a hotel, mixed tourism short stay and permanent residential housing.

Ms Evers said that an increased understanding of the impacts of climate change including rising sea levels on the Western Australian coastline, as well as the enormous biodiversity importance of the Gnarabup environment, meant the Government must protect the land.

The tabling of the petition by Ms Evers comes after the Preserve Gnarabup group raised more than $50,0000 in under a fortnight to fund the cost of campaigning to reverse the development, with a $100,000 target in sight. The campaign aims to fund either the reservation of land or a buy-back of land on Gnarabup headland where the housing estate and resort is proposed.

QUOTES ATTRIBUTED TO DIANE EVERS MLC:

“Margaret River is a world-renowned destination, not for its hotel developments, but for its pristine coastal environment and natural landscape.

“Almost a thousand locals oppose the destruction of the Gnarabup headland for the hotel development, with tens of thousands more lending their voice online.

“In July, I joined with others from the Augusta-Margaret River community when more than 400 people attended a rally at Reuther Park to oppose this proposal.

“This development proposal has caused significant angst in the community, who wish to see the land preserved for public purposes. 

“While it is important to ensure the local tourism trade is able to cater for visitors, this development would diminish amenity and access to valuable community and tourism assets, such as Margaret River’s only protected swimming and recreation beach.

“The message is clear to the McGowan Government: it is crucial that we do not sacrifice such important regional environmental assets.

“We need to preserve this coastline and encourage development for areas more suited to sustainability and managed tourism growth. 

“The impact of this town precinct development, with a multinational conglomerate at the centre of the plans, would significantly erode the natural environment and affect existing tourism businesses working hard to succeed in the region.

“Let’s not pave paradise to put up a Marriot.”

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

Bunbury Dolphins Deserve Dedicated Research Support

South West Greens MLC Diane Evers has expressed concerns that the WA Government is not meeting the necessary standards required to protect the health and wellbeing of the dolphin populations ahead of planned Koombana Bay marina developments.

Ms Evers, The Greens (WA) spokesperson for fisheries and marine, said she was alarmed by potentially irreversible environmental impacts the nearby development could have upon Bunbury’s dolphin population, with further research necessary in order to protect the welfare of the aquatic mammals.

According to parliamentary questions from Ms Evers to Environment Minister Stephen Dawson in 2019, the most recent dolphin population study was undertaken in 2013.

Ms Evers said she was concerned by a lack of ongoing research into dolphins, including the local population’s health, impact of boating movements and effects of tourism hand-feeding provisioning programs.

Last month, Minister Dawson confirmed data collection and analysis is currently not being undertaken by Murdoch University on behalf of the Bunbury Dolphin Discovery Centre and the Department of Biodiversity Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) with regards to hand-feeding tourism activities.

QUOTES ATTRIBUTED TO DIANE EVERS MLC:

“The WA Government has committed over $100 million dollars to the Bunbury waterfront transformation project, including the construction of new breakwaters at Casuarina Boat Harbour and Koombana Bay.

“While I understand some community desire for this investment, I remain very concerned about the health and wellbeing of the dolphins in the Bunbury area.

“Such a significant project must take into account the protection of the dolphin population so precious to those waters.

“A lack of support for environmental research by the WA Government and delayed Environmental Protection Authority assessments could mean the environmental impact of the expected development may not be known until it is too late.

“The proposal for this marina is in close proximity to the Bunbury Dolphin Discovery Centre (BDDC), which engages in hand feeding of dolphins for tourism purposes.

“Concerns have been raised with my office that the marina development, along with these local hand-feeding provisioning practices, may be negatively impacting the welfare of local dolphin populations.

“According to the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation, ‘habitat degradation, increased vessel traffic, tourism, illegal food provisioning, entanglement in marine debris, noise pollution, environmental contaminants and disease all threaten the health of the local dolphin population’.

“Government investment into proper research is crucial to mitigate such risk, and it is critical that the WA Government does not simply prioritise tourism over dolphin welfare.

“There is currently no funding arrangement between the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions and Murdoch University to undertake data collection and analysis on hand-feeding, with the Department instead relying on the BDDC’s own provisioning program to inform a review.

“I recognise that environmental studies are currently being undertaken by the South West Development Commission to support an environmental assessment, but with no population studies of dolphins inhabiting Bunbury coastal and inland waters completed since 2013, I encourage the WA Government to do what it can to support well-funded, independent research in this matter.”

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

Case For Manjimup Water Trading Dries Up As Community Opposition Intensifies

South West Greens MLC Diane Evers brought growing community discontent about the Southern Forests Irrigation Scheme (SFIS) to Parliament this week when she tabled a petition on behalf of over 3000 people opposed to the Manjimup water-trading scheme.

The petition was tabled on behalf of the Save Our Donnelly River community group on Tuesday and is the second petition Ms Evers has brought to Parliament regarding the scheme in the last 18 months.

Ms Evers said the increase in the number of signatories to a petition to stop the SFIS – from 862 in June 2019 to the current total of 3112 petitioners – was reflective of the momentum of outrage about the scheme’s inappropriateness.

The petitioners have asked the Legislative Council to withdraw state government approval and funding for the SFIS on the grounds that:

  • The average flow in the Donnelly River has declined as much as 65% since the 1990s.
  • Numerous species of vulnerable, threatened and critically endangered species of flora and fauna will be directly impacted by this proposal.
  • The Stewart Tree, WA’s tallest tree, and numerous ancient trees of significance are located within the dam impact zone on Record Brook.
  • An 85 per cent taxpayer-funded project should not be in the control of a privately-owned cooperative, exclusively benefitting 15 per cent of the farmers in the region.

Ms Evers said recent information provided by the Department of Water and Environment indicated reliability of the water for the scheme was only 44 per cent over a modelling period for the previous nine years.

This reliability would be dependent on fluctuating frequency of wetter years in a drying climate and would have seen the proposed dam totally emptied of its usable capacity for five out of the nine years.

Ms Evers said it was becoming clear that the WA Labor Government was making public statements in support of action on climate and water scarcity, without doing the work to enact the necessary investment, policy and scrutiny of existing projects like the SFIS to mitigate the climate crisis.

In recent weeks, Water Minister Dave Kelly MLA has launched the Water Corporation’s Think climate change. Be waterwise campaign, highlighting “the impacts of climate change and the significant reduction in rainfall and runoff into our dams”, while also stating the “need to rethink how we use our precious water resources”.

QUOTES ATTRIBUTED TO DIANE EVERS MLC:

“It is clear to an overwhelming majority that the Southern Forests Irrigation Scheme is an inequitable water trading scheme with potentially disastrous impacts on community and the environment.

“The SFIS is 85 per cent funded by taxpayers, but locks-out 85 per cent of farming businesses, with 70 farming families to pay one dollar in eight for a water-trading scheme on state forest land.

“It is totally inappropriate for such an impactful scheme to be owned by the Southern Forest Irrigation Co-operative – made up of a handful of directors and an unknown, undisclosed investor – in an agricultural region needing sustainable water supply for all.

“The fact is that Western Australia is dealing with water rights reliant on an Act from 1914 and rainfall data going back to 1975.

“Good forest and the world’s tallest karri tree are at risk from the environmental impact of the SFIS, with 160ha of healthy, resilient forest to be inundated and 142ha of forest to be cleared.

“River flows will be squeezed to a drop for a project that lacks transparency and could yet be blocked on environmental grounds.

“With such inequity, community discord and a lack of transparency, the time has come for Premier McGowan and his ministry to show leadership on this issue now, before it boils over.

“Simply put: this is a bad project that must be stopped – we must not damn the Donnelly.”

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