LOOK AT ME NOW HEADLAND OCEAN OUTFALL
Mr FRASER (Coffs Harbour) [4.45 p.m.]: I draw the attention of honourable members to an ongoing debacle in Coffs Harbour that has been aggravated by the Government. Honourable members who were in the House before the 1995 election will definitely remember Look At Me Now Headland, because there was a localised battle with Greens and other people who adopted a NIMBY attitude - not in my back yard - in relation to an outfall of highly treated effluent into the Pacific Ocean at that headland. It was such a great issue that the Labor Party decided to run its 1995 election campaign on it. However, voting for the Labor candidate in the Coffs Harbour electorate fell by 6 per cent. Not to be outdone, the ideological push by most people in the area was taken up by the Government. The Minister for the Environment and the Minister for Urban Affairs and Planning have decided to turn Look At Me Now Headland into a nature reserve. They have foisted on the people of Coffs Harbour a $220 million solution, for which the people of Coffs Harbour must pay.
At the time the shadow minister for public works, now the Minister for the Olympics, told the Coffs Harbour electorate that the Government's proposed solution would not cost Coffs Harbour
ratepayers one cent. However, the Government's solution will cost ratepayers $220 million. The solution includes closing existing outfalls in Coffs Harbour and installing a deepwater ocean outfall for highly treated effluent, and reusing reclaimed water. Much to the dislike of local residents, in the latest edition of On Tap, a community newsletter on the Coffs Harbour sewerage strategy - the words "on tap" indicate that the reclaimed water can be used as drinking water - the Government has proposed putting effluent into not only the Coffs Harbour water supply but Bucca Bucca Creek, which is near where I live. More than 120 people draw their water supply directly from that creek, yet the Government -
Mr E. T. Page: Did you declare a conflict of interest?
Mr FRASER: I do not draw water from that creek, but residents who live near me do so.
Mr E. T. Page: The creek is near you. The restructure will affect you, so you should have declared an interest.
Mr FRASER: The verbiage coming from the Minister is the same as what is going into the creek - effluent. In On Tap the Government is saying that the reclaimed water is not good enough to flow into the ocean but is good enough for the local water supply and for drinking. That is lunacy. It is time the Government woke up. If the water is good enough to be allowed to flow back into an inland waterway - the effluent is high in phosphates, and the Minister should realise that blue-green algae is a problem in all waterways and is caused by phosphate - why is the water not good enough to flow into the ocean? Why must the people of Coffs Harbour pay $220 million for an ideology generated by a few greens and supported by the Labor Government? On Tap states that government departments have been directed to undertake trials although no environmental impact statement has been prepared. The water will be used in forests and on crops without an environmental impact statement being prepared. The latest statement on this issue released by the Department of Health states:
The department says it wants to see the study, but it knows that the study will prove that the viruses and bacteria that cannot be taken out of the effluent will cause direct problems for people using the playing fields. The polio virus, for example, will live in soil for up to 170 days. Apparently this effluent cannot be put directly into a deepwater ocean outfall and thus save money for the people but it can be put on playing fields and into water supplies. No water treatment company or government body will give guarantees of virus removal. Everyone knows that strains of the hepatitis virus from A to F and beyond, have now been identified; there is a virus that changes and that can live in soil. The Government is prepared to put the effluent on playing fields and into the water supply but is not prepared to dilute it by a ratio of billions to one and pump it into the ocean. The people of Coffs Harbour will pay for the Government's approach. Here in Sydney the same Government talks about putting in an outfall with primary treated effluent at Cronulla. The Government can lift its game and clean up the effluent in Sydney, but it will put the problem on to the people in Coffs Harbour. That is not good enough. [Time expired.]
We are pleased to see a serious study of management practices for reclaimed water re-use on recreational areas including playing fields.