Mr MICHAEL RICHARDSON: My question without notice is directed to the Attorney General, and Minister for the Environment. Does he stand by his comments that the dumping by Waste Service NSW of 4,000 tonnes of toxic sludge containing up to 15 times the allowable concentration of oil and thousands of litres of organochlorins was not illegal when Environment Protection Authority Deputy Director-General, Simon Smith, stated that Waste Service NSW "broke the law"?
Mr BOB DEBUS: I wonder how many other questions the honourable member might ask on behalf of commercial interests.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to order. The Minister has the call.
Mr BOB DEBUS: One ought to bear in mind that there is a long and colourful history of claim and counterclaim between commercial waste companies. I urge honourable members, not least the honourable member for The Hills, to consider allegations that are brought to their attention in the context of the cut and thrust of aggressive, competitive commercial practices. That being so, I merely say this about the question of Waste Service NSW and the liquid treatment plant: There was an incident in October 2003.
Routine monitoring conducted by Waste Service established that stabilised residue produced by that plant was not meeting the standards required by the Department of Environment and Conservation—the old Environment Protection Authority—which regulates the industry, as was required by the licence of Waste Service. It reported that information to the department, the department's regulatory division commenced action both to investigate the breach and to require Waste Service to ensure that there would be no environmental harm. The department established an independent investigation. I am advised that this inquiry established that there is no evidence that the breach poses a risk to human health or had an adverse effect on the environment.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The Deputy Leader of the Opposition will cease interjecting.
Mr Barry O'Farrell: You are going to kill someone.
Mr BOB DEBUS: It is not going to kill somebody; that is the point that I made. The honourable member said that it was irrelevant. A fine for a breach of licence conditions was issued in August this year. That was consistent with the department's prosecution guidelines and with the penalties that are imposed on other sections of the industry for similar licence breaches. I am advised that Waste Service is working co-operatively with the department to ensure that those compliance issues are resolved. In other words, there has been a perfectly appropriate response to this breach of conditions by the Department of Environment and Conservation.