The process leading to DEC (Department of Environment and Conservation) issuing a licence that effectively closes the organic composting and green-waste mulching at SMRC (Southern Metropolitan Regional Council) represented governance at its worst. The state government ignored concepts of due process and natural justice and the motivation for the action was not based on good governance but rank populism.
I recall us laughing at Joh Bjelke Petersen’s response to a question at the Fitzgerald Royal Commission when asked about his understanding of the concept of separation of powers; now young man don’t ask me any more of those trick question was his response. Clearly the Premier and Minister for the Environment hold similar contempt for this concept as Joh did. I say this because DEC were in dialogue with SMRC on engineered solutions to odour abatement right up to when Members of Parliament Dr Mike Nahan (Riverton) and Joe Francis (Jandakot) met with the Premier, Colin Barnett, and the Minister for the Environment on Thursday 22 March 2012 at Parliament and demanded that the Southern Metropolitan Regional Council’s composting plant be closed immediately (italics are direct quote from Joe Francis’s webpage). The result of this meeting was the public servants at DEC being directed by politicians (Premier and Minister for the Environment) to close SMRC down. No separation of powers there.
Some are directing anger towards the handful of people who set up the action group that is trying to close the SMRC down, this anger is misdirected, as a person who has been involved in community action, I fully support people’s rights to protest. The scandal here is the lack of due process exercised by MLA Dr Mike Nahan, MLA Joe Francis, the Premier and Minister for the Environment in an attempt to bolster two marginal seats, while totally undermining the Governments commitment to reducing waste going to landfill.
If the SMRC is to attain a new license to operate the politicians involved need to be given the strong message that they are going to lose more votes keeping the SMRC closed than they will gain with their current course of action. Let the SMRC continue to work with DEC to address any odour issues and get the plant back working.
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