HON ALISON XAMON (North Metropolitan) [6.15 pm]: I want to make a member’s statement before we go into the winter recess, to draw the attention of members to, and also to place on the parliamentary record, a matter that my office is currently working on, and it is time-sensitive. I refer to the site of the proposed wave park at Alfred Cove. I recognise that the community in Melville has some major concerns about the way that this project has developed over time, and I acknowledge that both Standing Committee on Environment and Public Affairs and the Corruption and Crime Commission have already looked into those issues. I particularly want to talk tonight about the specific environmental value of the site and how, yet again, that appears to be having no effect on how this proposal is currently being assessed by the government.

The site is almost entirely within the Swan–Canning development control area, and is part of the Swan Canning Riverpark. It is part of Bush Forever site 331, and it is in reserve 35486, which has been recommended to become an A-class reserve. It is zoned in the metropolitan region scheme as parks and recreation and, importantly, it abuts a wildlife habitat protection zone on the Swan River. It is also built on old landfill, which means that, if there is going to be any digging on the site, that has the potential to create a risk of disturbing a range of things that we are really best to just let lie. All of this should be flying red flags for local and state governments, but tonight I will talk only about the elements directly related to the Swan River Trust.

The proposed site is located almost entirely on the Swan–Canning development control area. The purpose of the development control area, or the DCA, is twofold. It is there to ensure consistency in process and decision-making in areas that directly affect the Swan River, and it is also to ensure that the protection of the Swan River will always be at the forefront of any planning decisions. Originally, it was thought that the entire site was within the DCA, in which case part 5 of the Swan and Canning Rivers Management Act 2006 would have applied, which means that the development application would be made to the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, and ultimately would be determined by the Minister for Environment. However, as it turns out, part of the site falls within a road reserve. It is not entirely clear why a road reserve would not fall under the DCA, as a range of public and private land is still subject to DCA oversight. However, it seems that, due to the presence of that road reserve, it will now be going through the Western Australian Planning Commission process, as outlined in clause 30A of the metropolitan region scheme. This will not necessarily speed up any decisions on this proposal.

The Swan River Trust will now be invited to provide advice to the WAPC or the joint development assessment panel, which will be the determining bodies. Should those bodies wish to make a determination that is not consistent with that advice, the application will be determined jointly by the Minister for Environment and the Minister for Planning. Although I am not entirely sure about the road reserve, the entire site falls within the Swan Canning Riverpark, and the Swan and Canning Rivers protection strategy recognises ecosystem health as the basis of all the things that we value within that river park. This strategy explicitly supports the development of appropriate commercial opportunities in the river park. There is no guidance on what constitutes “appropriate”, but the strategy regularly refers to activities such as walking, cycling, kayaking or canoeing, which are understood to be pretty low-impact activities. The relevant policy on commercial operations within the DCA and the river park requires an application to demonstrate that it is pertinent to the river and that it will maintain or improve public access, community use and enjoyment of the river system and the amenity and landscape character of the river. It goes on to state that the long-term health and natural ecosystem of the river is to be maintained and enhanced whenever possible. It is going to be interesting to see how this proposal will be able to demonstrate any of those things.

The Swan River Trust Technical Advisory Panel has also considered the potential impacts of climate change on the river and foreshore and recommends that the state government avoids allowing development on low-lying areas so there can be an extended buffer for the anticipated sea level rises and also to assist with landward migration of the intertidal zone. I remain astonished that a road reserve can reduce the role of the Swan River Trust so dramatically in determining a development proposal of this magnitude in the development control area. We have already repeatedly identified the area as environmentally significant, both now and in the future, as the Swan and Canning River system deals with climate change. It is astonishing that the proposal has got so far with so little notice from the government agencies that are supposed to be protecting the Swan River. This site is simply not suitable for this type of development—not now and certainly not in the future.


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