Mike Bolan

These questions, among many others, merit serious consideration. There is no point our having laws that fail to meet their own objectives, neither is it of any value or legitimacy to have a process that cannot assure that the objectives are met.

Friday, Mercury: The Libs’ backflip
REVIEWING the deeply fascinating State Policies and Projects Act 1993 we learn in 6 (1) that the RPDC “must perform its functions and exercise its powers in a manner that furthers the objectives set out in Schedule 1.”

Note the use of the word “must” gives the Commission no discretion in this.

So what’s in Schedule 1 we might ask … well, the long and short of it is …

1 The objectives of the resource management and planning system of Tasmania are:
a. to promote the sustainable development of natural and physical resources and the maintenance of ecological processes and genetic diversity; and
b. to provide for the fair, orderly and sustainable use and development of air, land and water; and
c. to encourage public involvement in resource management and planning; and
d. to facilitate economic development in accordance with the objectives set out in
paragraphs (a), (b) and (c); and …

2 In clause 1(a), “sustainable development” means managing the use, development and protection of natural and physical resources in a way, or at a rate, which enables people and communities to provide for their social, economic and cultural well-being and for their health and safety while:
a. sustaining the potential of natural and physical resources to meet the reasonably foreseeable needs of future generations; and
b. safeguarding the life-supporting capacity of air, water, soil and ecosystems; and avoiding, remedying or mitigating any adverse effects of activities on the environment

Most people would probably be pretty happy if Schedule 1 was guaranteed to be the top of the government and RPDC’s priority lists. Interested readers might care to assess whether the RPDC is indeed acting to achieve the objectives in Schedule 1 (which they ‘must’ do according to 6 (1) of the Act) or whether their actions are in violation of their own charter.

For example, it’s hard to see how the public can respond to a changeable draft of 7,500 pages that’ll cost them $70 per copy, yet have no opportunity to respond to the final IIS … and how can the public assess the proposal with so many key elements missing from it? What confidence can we have in blandishments from the proponent that are not supported by rock-solid guarantees? How do they encourage public involvement without helping us out with resources? These and a myriad other questions are worthy of an answer, particularly given the press articles suggesting that we can’t criticize the RPDC as they are impartial. How impartial is a process where the public funds the proponent with PR and pro-mill task forces yet has no access to public resources itself?

These questions, among many others, merit serious consideration. There is no point our having laws that fail to meet their own objectives, neither is it of any value or legitimacy to have a process that cannot assure that the objectives are met.

It is only by answering such questions that we can truly assess whether the process for the mill (and Ralphs Bay) is one that meets the objectives of the Act.

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