Minister should check her facts on Flinders Chase development referral

Minister should check her facts on Flinders Chase development referral

Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie has used Question Time to ask the Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley – for a second time – to step in and review a controversial plan to build accommodation and roads in sensitive areas of the Flinders Chase National Park on Kangaroo Island.

Back in June the Centre Alliance MP wrote to the Minister to ask that she use her authority under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 to review the development because there was a strong argument the impact could be a matter of national environmental significance.

Minister Ley wrote back and said the development would not be referred because the Act relied on self-assessment and voluntary referral and in this case, the developer, the Australian Walking Company, did not believe their proposal would have a “significant impact on matters of national environmental significance”.

“I reject that argument and reject the Minister’s subsequent response in Question Time that this development doesn’t meet the criteria where the Minister has the authority to refer the matter for investigation,” Rebekha said this week.

“At present, we have Friends of Parks volunteers on strike and a community taking action in the South Australian Supreme Court because they believe the State Government has ridden roughshod over genuine concerns about vegetation removal and the threat to vulnerable species.

“There are a number of criteria for referral to the Environment Department for a review and the Minister has the discretion to make the referral herself.

“It’s not enough to rely on the word of the developer that there is nothing to see here.

"This is not about being anti-development, this about due diligence.

“In the case of the Australian Walking Company (AWC) application, there is a body of evidence that this development will remove remnant native vegetation that is the habitat of a number of nationally endangered species including the Kangaroo Island Dunnart, the Kangaroo Island Echidna and the Southern Brown Bandicoot, as well the nationally vulnerable Bassian Thrush and the Hooded Plover.

“Only recently Australia made global headlines as having one of the worst extinction rates on the planet so we really need to be vigilant when it comes to removing what little remnant vegetation we have left.

“The Minister could ask for an investigation and reassure my community that due diligence has been done with respect to this development.”