Gary Nairn Raises Charcoal Plant Issue in Federal Parliament

Extract from
Votes and Proceedings Hansard


Eden-Monaro Electorate: Proposed Charcoal Plant

Mr NAIRN (Eden-Monaro) (9.43 a.m.)—Last year the news of a proposed charcoal plant near the small hamlet of Mogo, between Batemans Bay and Moruya, rocked the town and the greater Eurobodalla. I rise in the Main Committee today to raise awareness of my submission to the New South Wales Department of Urban Affairs and Planning, DUAP, concerning this application. I would like to add at this point that, since 1979, the department has kept records of the number of submissions each proposal receives and this project has broken all records.

Since the original announcement, I have met with many residents who hold fears that this project is not consistent with the nature coast image that the Eurobodalla has successfully marketed. I understand that fear, yet it is in many ways disappointing for me as their federal member and with my great passion for job creation projects to have to pass these sentiments along to the department, for I can only imagine the benefit the community could derive from this project.

In my submission to DUAP, I encouraged the proponents and the New South Wales government to search for an alternative site — a site that would be acceptable to locals and therefore still provide new investment and jobs for the region. In my submission I said:

The question has been asked with respect to other possible sites. The EIS mentions that ten sites in the Batemans Bay-Moruya region were considered but all the other sites were not as suitable as the proposed one.

I understand that sites which are currently Crown Land were not deemed suitable due to the possibility of native title complications. I would assume that any Crown Land sites worth consideration would be within the Southern Forests RFA region as that land has at least had significant environmental studies carried out on it.

Therefore I would suggest that the New South Wales Government should give consideration as to whether the native title “complications” can be overcome if an alternative acceptable site is available with in the Southern Forest region. There are other towns in Eden-Monaro that would jump at the opportunity to have this project in their town.

As I discussed in the House on Monday night, the town of Bombala is reeling from the possible closure of their timber mill, and the town has already spoken in support of the charcoal project moving to Bombala. Unfortunately, the proponents, Australian Silicon, claimed that Bombala is too far away from the resources they intend to utilise.

The point I would like to make today, however, is that the New South Wales government has an obligation to listen to the people of the Eurobodalla. With a record 1,528 submissions lodged, the council requested a meeting with the Premier, but he refused to listen to the elected representatives of the region, representatives who are doing their job by voicing the community’s concerns to the Premier of the state. The community has spoken loudly, yet Mr Carr sits in his Sydney office and refuses to meet them. As the leader of the New South Wales government, he should fulfil his duty to the people of New South Wales and meet with the councillors of the shire in an effort to discuss an outcome that will suit all parties.

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