16 September 2020

Ms TRISH DOYLE (Blue Mountains) (20:02:56): I want everyone to take a minute to picture some of this bunch opposite sitting around a fancy table drinking sparkling water in front of a whiteboard and having a little brainstorm. They have their goal written in the middle of the whiteboard in black marker—probably a permanent marker because the Deputy Premier has taken charge—and they are working backwards, starting with the goal and then figuring out all of the steps to get them there. So what is the goal? What is written in permanent marker with a big circle around it? Development, overdevelopment, lots of it, on a flood plain. To put it bluntly, the New South Wales Government is in the pocket of property developers.

Property developers want to see residential and commercial development continue to skyrocket, despite a prediction that an additional 134,000 more people will crowd into the area and into the path of potential flooding. The problem? It is a flood plain. The Government thinks it is so good that it can and should control everything, even nature. A few steps back on that whiteboard from the end goal of overdevelopment is the raising of the Warragamba Dam wall and never mind the consequences. If the dam wall is raised, it could affect half the remaining global population of the critically endangered regent honeyeater. Itwould impact the diverse eucalypt species, which is one of the outstanding universal values for which the Blue Mountains World Heritage area was declared, and it could further damage koala habitats and populations. That is just to name a few things the Liberals are still hell-bent on pushing through.

The other matter that has evidently been pushed to the side is the fact that it could wipe out as many as 50 recognised Aboriginal heritage sites and cause irreparable damage and loss of country. Gundungurra traditional owner Kazan Brown has dubbed it as Sydney's Juukan Gorge. The traditional owners have not given their consent and that cannot and must not be pushed aside. Our traditional owners have firmly said in a letter that they do not give consent for the raising of the Warragamba Dam wall. I will read intoHansard the response of traditional owner Kazan Brown to the Government's attempt to obtain consent. She says:

We have now written to the Federal Minister for Indigenous Australians and the NSW Premier, stating that we do not give free prior and informed consent for the project to proceed. This makes it abundantly clear to all levels of government that Indigenous communities whose land this dam proposal would impact upon do not support the proposal proceeding. If the proposal to raise the Warragamba Dam wall continues to proceed, the NSW Government and its agencies will now be acting in contravention to the wishes of Traditional Owners, the Federal Government and the World Heritage Committee.

I call on the Premier to respond swiftly to the correspondence she has received, and to assure our traditional owners that her Government will not contravene their wishes, because leaked documents are suggesting that is her intention. The survey of land to be impacted by raising the dam wall was woefully inadequate. Some very senior public servants and former senior staff have raised concerns with me that require noting on the record. It is noted that the likelihood—even the inevitability—is that raising the wall will intensify urban development on the flood plain downstream, will increase community vulnerability to rare very large floods and will overwhelm capacity of evacuation routes. As I have mentioned in this place before, it is noted that the potential political interference with the flood mitigation storage component of the enlarged Lake Burragorang would compromise the mitigation benefits that are achieved—as happened with Wivenhoe Dam upstream of Brisbane in 2009.

Raising the dam will have destructive upstream environmental impacts and will not provide flood mitigation benefits downstream in severe events while simultaneously increasing the number of people to be evacuated in very big floods. I ask that the environment Minister, who recently acknowledged the cultural heritage and beauty of the Burragorang Valley while standing alongside Aunty Sharyn and other traditional owners, talk to his colleagues. In particular I ask that he talk to the emergency services Minister, who is trying to make the SES a failure in its field, and to the western Sydney Minister, who would like development for as far as the eye can see. I would like to communicate to the Government recent words spoken by Aunty Sharyn, a formidable, knowledgeable and proud Gundungurra woman. Each and every one of them should pause in their busy rat race to listen. She said, "Environment is everything. If you lose your environment, you've lost everything."