– (comparable complex of hazardous industry in Melbourne)
UPDATE: 30 March 2015: Liberals won a ‘mandate’ on 28th March but Mandarins as always in control. This unhelpful response from senior bureaucrat – Sonja Stewart (pictured left) – who has been in ‘service’ since 2002 – seen off Carr, Iemma, Rees, Keneally, O’Farrell. Stewart writes – “Given that the Department of Premier and Cabinet can be of no further assistance to you I wish to advise that the Department will not respond to any future correspondence on this matter.” What assistance? None has been provided by these ‘public servants’. Had they been genuinely interested in assisting they would have referred to the Community Resilience Innovation Program
Previous Post on Emergency Preparedness Read the transcript for the afternoon session, 21/11/2011, of the Orica Kooragang Inquiry, and you get some idea of the inadequacy of communication between responsible government agencies and the public during and subsequent to the event It was evident from public forums that residents were also ill-prepared for any event. The response received from Vicki D’Adam (CEO of the Ministry for Police and Emergency Services) today does not address the issues previously raised. She states that “a central principle of emergency management planning in NSW is that it will be managed by the lowest level of government” and then goes on to say that ‘a local council representative chairs the local emergency management committee’. Is Ms D’Adam aware that the Port Botany Precinct comes under the jurisdiction of 2 Councils – Randwick and Botany Bay – and that a SEPP covers a major part of the area. Was she also aware that the risk assessment that should have been conducted as part of an EIS under 2005 Conditions of Consent A1.4 when the 3.2 million TEU cap was removed was not and will not because the State Government brought in legislation see Section 32 to void those conditions. Does she understand the implications of this. How can either local Council ‘plan and prepare’ when the State Government doesn’t ‘stick to the rules’. Lessons provided by the Kooragang event in August 2011 have not been heeded. It was easy in 2011, only a few months after election for the Government to allocate responsibility elsewhere. But the same does not apply now. Barry O’Farrell, former premier in a statement to the Upper House Inquiry 21 November 2011 appeared to understand the concerns of residents in high risk areas: I have door knocked streets across Stockton opposite the Kooragang Island plant and I can assure you that the people there are not interested in inquiries or in the blame game. They simply want a safe environment for their family; perfectly responsible and understandable. and later when responding to a question: Ultimately, we in Government are in pursuit of public need. Ultimately, it is about public interests, including public interest was failed here. But who does now? “Representing the interests of the community” as Ms D’Adam writes, is not the same as engaging with community and building resilience through a whole of government approach. She also refers to the Botany Bay DISPLAN but this plan is devoid of references to building community resilience. The one occurrence of the word ‘community’ is in the ‘Definition’. Compare this with the Sydney CBD Plan and the website as well as the Lucas Heights Plan
The bureaucrats have a history of not addressing and communicating the extent of cumulative risk on North Botany Bay. The first assessment of the risk undertaken 1980-83 was not made public until Steve Skinner’s ABC Background Briefing “Chlorine Capers”, 16th June 2002. This forced the then Planning Minister, Andrew Refshauge, to table the report in Parliament on 18th June. Earlier reference had been made to the secret document by Democrat MLC, Richard Jones, on 21st September 1989 when the Legislative Council were debating the Environmental Offences and Penalties Bill. (Below pages from the 1983 Report – note the cost of buying out residents but also the recommendation for a buffer zone).
After the Meadow Way fire in June 2013 residents requested a special meeting of the Orica committee concerned with the HCB stockpile. Concerns were raised about the proximity to the BIP and education of the community about risk and emergency response. Questions were taken on notice from Fire and Rescue and responses provided. While Fire and Rescue personnel are expected to put their lives on the line when responding to emergency events – as they did at the subsequent Caltex spill in July 2013 – they have no official part in land use planning. They may consider a buffer zone around major industry, like the BIP (Botany Industrial Park) is commonsense but their opinion is not sought.