One hundred hectares of bush was smashed over for no reason and $20 million of taxpayers’ money was wasted—against the clear advice of Main Roads Western Australia. It was bloody-minded vandalism on a grand scale, egged on by this federal Liberal government.
Mr Wilson (10:36am) — I recently joined members of the Cockburn Community Wildlife Corridor crew to look at the work they’ve been doing to regenerate banksia woodland in the Beeliar wetlands. As part of that effort, I want to acknowledge the hundreds of people who turned out the weekend before last to undertake replanting in the bush corridor that was knocked over by the Barnett government in its dying days. That clearing, quite frankly, was scandalous. One hundred hectares of bush was smashed over for no reason and $20 million of taxpayers’ money was wasted—against the clear advice of Main Roads Western Australia. It was bloody-minded vandalism on a grand scale, egged on by this federal Liberal government.
Thankfully, much worse harm to the environment, to the WA budget and to our transport system was prevented by the campaign fought by thousands of Western Australians in the summer of 2016-17. Now the area is being rehabilitated and the federal funds have been redirected into five major transport projects that will address congestion, reduce truck freight and create local construction jobs in the next few years. After a decade of inaction from state and federal Liberal governments, it’s fantastic that the south metro area will soon benefit from the widening of the freeway northbound from Russell Road, the new North Lake Road bridge and duplication of Armadale Road, the comprehensive upgrade of the High Street and Stirling Highway intersection, the Metronet link from Cockburn to Thornlie, and a new Fremantle traffic and rail bridge.
That is five major transport projects covering road, rail and public transport. It is more than a billion dollars worth of well-designed local transport projects being delivered in the Fremantle electorate by the McGowan Labor government. That means a further reduction in the number of trucks on local roads, including Leach Highway. It means less congestion, improved safety and more public transport options. It also means keeping an important local ecosystem in good health, and that’s critical to the survival of rare and endangered native species, including migratory birds. Anyone who thinks that inflicting damage on a remnant wetland like Beeliar is a trivial matter needs to have their head checked.
We know that Australian biodiversity is under threat. We know that Australia has the highest rate of mammal extinctions in the world, and the government should explain why there are no current recovery plans in place for five out of the nine critically endangered Australian mammals. It should explain why, in the absence of clear reporting, it is estimated there are no recovery plans for 40 per cent of all threatened species. We know habitat loss represents the biggest driver of population decline for native species. We’ve already knocked over something like 40 per cent of the Australian forests that existed at settlement. We need to do better or we’ll continue to see plants, birds, reptiles, fish and mammals—our biodiversity—disappear. People in my electorate are getting directly involved in habitat protection and they want to see their government step up to the task.