Dr MEHREEN FARUQI ( 15:14 ): My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Resources, Minister for Energy and Utilities, Minister for the Arts, and Vice-President of the Executive Council. Given the disturbing revelations and allegations on Four Corners about the waste industry, including systematic illegal dumping, corruption, shifting waste across borders and the secret recordings of the Environment Protection Authority [EPA] director of waste management joking with industry and mocking the Government’s own systems, will the New South Wales Government establish a special commission of inquiry into the whole waste industry in New South Wales?
Mr Jeremy Buckingham: The wheels have come off. Oh, the arrogance!
The Hon. Shaoquett Moselmane: What else then?
Mr Jeremy Buckingham: The rot has set in.
The Hon. Ben Franklin: Point of order: Mr President, in a previous ruling you instructed Mr Jeremy Buckingham not to interject any further because he was on two calls to order. He not only is interjecting but also is offensive in doing so. Mr President, I ask you to consider this matter.
The PRESIDENT: Order! I did not instruct Mr Jeremy Buckingham; I reminded him that he was on two calls to order. I again remind him that he is on two calls to order. He interjected twice before the Minister began answering the question. The Minister has the call.
The Hon. DO N HARWIN (Minister for Resources, Minister for Energy and Utilities, and Minister for the Arts) ( 15:15 ): I did not to get a chance to see the Four Corners program, although of course I have seen reports since. I was in the process of returning from a visit to the Far South Coast. Very serious allegations were raised in that program. I know that those matters are being studied very closely by the Minister. The Government expects to release a draft regulation for comment in coming weeks that proposes to introduce changes to tighten up recycling. The proposed changes aim to reduce the amount of waste moving interstate and increase recycling in New South Wales.
Initial consultation was undertaken in November last year. A national approach to regulate waste moving between States will be discussed at a meeting of State environment protection authorities later this year. New South Wales is leading this work. The Government wants waste to be managed locally so that it can reduce the quantity of waste that is sent to landfill and ensure that recycling rates continue to increase. Illegal dumping is an environmental crime and completely unacceptable. The Government is committed to stamping it out. It is caused by a range of factors and occurs in non-waste-levy-paying areas as well as in areas that pay the levy.
The PRESIDENT: Order! I call the Hon. Penny Sharpe to order for the first time.
The Hon. DON HARWIN: The Environment Protection Authority [EPA] is completing an investigation into the illegal dumping matter in Spencer. A brief is being prepared for criminal prosecution and the EPA is in court with persons of interest. The local council advised the EPA of the matter in December 2014 but the council also confirmed that it would lead the investigation. The EPA took over the investigation in December 2015 because the scale of the waste had increased, and that made the EPA the appropriate regulatory authority. I trust this information is of assistance to Dr Mehreen Faruqi. I also will refer the question to the Minister for the Environment in case there is any other aspect of Dr Faruqi’s question on which the Minister would like to comment.