The NSW Shadow Minister for Environment and Heritage, Ms Penny Sharpe, has committed to holding a Commission of Inquiry into the Mangrove Mountain Landfill if a Labor Government was elected in NSW at the next State Election.
Ms Sharpe’s commitment follows a rejection by the NSW Premier, Ms Gladys Berejiklian, of a formal request from Mountain Districts Association (MDA) for the current NSW Government to hold a Commission of Inquiry.
MDA Spokesperson, Dr Stephen Goodwin, said despite specifically requesting a personal response from the Premier, the association’s request has again been referred to another Minister, and the letter rejecting the request came from Mr Jonathan O’Dea, Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier and Treasurer.
Dr Goodwin said the NSW Government had again chosen to ignore the MDA’s request for a Commission of Inquiry to examine the statutory failings of the EPA and Central Coast Council in relation to the Mangrove Mountain Landfill.
Instead, Mr O’Dea’s letter focused on claims by the EPA that a technical landfill expert had found “no evidence the landfill was having any negative impact on ground or surface water quality”.
According to MDA, no water quality testing had been done by the expert, the EPA had relied on data from the landfill operator, and its conclusions were “wrong”.
Shadow Minister, Ms Sharpe, said she believed the issue was “black and white”, and that a Commission of Inquiry was the best way to examine why the former Gosford Council had applied to the Land and Environment Court to shut the landfill down and have the site remediated, but then accepted Orders to allow the operator to dump a further 1.3 million cubic metres of waste at the top of Central Coast’s water catchment area.
“I have always supported a Commission of Inquiry on this issue,” Ms Sharpe said.
“The Government continues to cherry pick evidence and not go to the heart of the issue,” she said.
Member for Gosford, Ms Liesl Tesch, said the decision by the State Government not to conduct a Commission of Inquiry had left the community demanding action.
Ms Tesch said the Government can’t just walk away from this issue and there needs to be more oversight and investigation.
“I’m pleased that Central Coast Council has established an advisory committee, and that the EPA is being investigated by ICAC, but it’s vital that all questions are answered about how this terrible situation was allowed to happen in the first place and continue for so long,” Ms Tesch said.
“While an ICAC investigation will hopefully unearth corrupt behaviour, it won’t advise recommendations on process or policy changes that need to occur to ensure this doesn’t happen again on the Coast, or anywhere else in NSW.
“The NSW Liberal Government should not be taking the easy way out and rejecting community calls for a Commission of Inquiry.
“They need to come to the table and support our locals in making this Commission of Inquiry happen.
“This decision comes just days after anti-illegal dumping activists were recognised with an environmental award for their work defending the Central Coast water catchment and Mangrove Mountain landscape.”
Letter, Oct 13
Johnathan O’Dea, Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier and Treasurer
Interview, Oct 30
Stephen Goodwin, Mountain Districts Association
Interview, Oct 30
Penny Sharpe, Shadow Minister for Environment and Heritage
Media release, Nov 1
Richard Mehrtens, office of Liesl Tesch
Jackie Pearson, journalist