GM CONTAMINATION INQUIRY
One of my first acts as a Parliamentarian back in June, was tabling a petition organised by FOODwatch calling for compensation for WA farmers who experienced economic loss through GM crop contamination. This bore fruit in December, when the Standing Committee on Environment and Public Affairs, with the backing of the Agriculture Minister, agreed to inquire further into the issue. Over January, I put out the call far and wide for farmers to contribute their firsthand experiences and on-the-ground knowledge as evidence to the inquiry.
One of the problems with the GM debate is that we don’t hear enough from farmers because of fear of repercussions. So it was one of my proudest moments in early February, to help get an item on the ABC’s Country Hour where we heard from a non-GM farmer about his fears and experiences. I really hope this important inquiry will provide useful answers and guidance, and I will be following it closely.
FIGHTING FOR OUR COMMUNITY RESOURCE CENTERS
In the September 2017 State Budget, the McGowan Government flagged it was planning a 40 per cent cut to Community Resource Centers (CRCs) from 2019-20 onward. This naturally has caused great concern in my South West electorate where constituents rely heavily on their local CRCs for a broad range of services. No one is sure yet how such a cut, if it proceeds, will be implemented and whether just some CRCs would experience cutbacks or if it will be across the board. I have received nearly 100 letters from CRC users urging me to help them fight the cuts. The Regional Development Minister has announced a review to report by June 2018.
I am determined to make sure we don’t lose any services that sustain people and communities in my electorate, and across the State. For the past few months, I have been reaching out to each CRC in the South West electorate for their thoughts and feedback, and I will be taking this information back to raise with the Minister.
When I am out and about in the electorate, I regularly use the CRCs for meetings and events. In each town, I have witnessed that these Centers are the heart of so much. I intend to fight for these vital services to remain in our communities for all to benefit.
HANDS OFF POINT PERON!
In January, I attended a packed public meeting in Rockingham about the proposed Mangles Bay Inland Marina at precious Point Peron. It was a shame that no one from Government, apart from a LandCorp representative, attended because it was clear from the very large audience and mood, that any Government proceeding with this disastrous canal-style development proposal for the southern end of Cockburn Sound, will face very strong community opposition. Although this was outside of my South West electorate, I attended as the WA Greens Marine spokesperson.
Mangles Bay is an important, diverse fish nursery, including for King George Whiting and Blue Swimmer Crab. Maintaining its ecological health supports the Little Penguin colonies on Garden Island and Penguin Island, as well as fish stocks and water quality across the Sound. I will be working closely with WA Greens MLC colleagues Robin Chapple and Tim Clifford, who hold the Ports and Planning portfolios, to ensure that all future development in Cockburn Sound prioritises the ecological health of this important WA water body.
STANDING UP FOR OUR FORESTS
One of my priorities for this term of Government is greater protection for our native forests. The WA Greens policy is to end further logging of native forests and woodlands, and that is the goal I am working towards in diverse ways. One stepping point is to get the McGowan Government to enact on its pre-election promise to ‘immediately conserve all High Conservation Value (HCV) forests to provide protection for some of WA’s most threatened wildlife, including the Forest Black-Cockatoos, Western Ringtail Possums, Numbats and Quokkas’. Over summer, I reviewed more than 100 South West forests, ranging from the Swan Region around Perth, the South West Region, and the Warren Region towards the south coast, which were identified as ‘HCV’ by the Conservation Commission 2002. I am sorry to say that many of these, including those known to contain threatened animals and plants as well as patches of old-growth trees, are listed in the one-year and three-year harvest plans put out by the Forest Products Commission and the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, respectively. My team and I have been working hard to collect signatures for a huge WA Forest Alliance petition that will be tabled in Parliament in March on this issue. Expect to hear more from us shortly on this issue and in the meantime, if you have questions or suggestions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.