Speeches

No respect for Western Sydney

February 22, 2021

When Western Sydney airport's EIS was approved by the then minister, Josh Frydenberg, in 2016, it required a huge environmental offsets package to give this project any hope of being accepted. There are vulnerable grey-headed flying fox in the habitat. There's Cumberland Plain habitat. It's home to the critically endangered swift parrot. There was a sizeable amount of money put aside—around $180 million. That sounds great in theory, but, in practice, there is no land that can be used to offset the environmental impacts of this airport. What we know now is that, once extensive across Western Sydney, there's only six per cent of woodland left, dominated by grey box eucalypts, forest red gums and grassy understory, and everyone wants it. There is not enough to offset. So what's the government done? It's decided to double dip, or, as someone describes it, regift the Orchard Hills defence site. This is the same amount of land that was promised 20 years ago to be kept in perpetuity, and now it's been promised again. This is an absolute disgrace. What it shows is the lack of respect this government has for the people of Western Sydney. They deserve proper environmental protection, and they're not getting it. This government will have a lot to answer for when this airport is built.