October 2022 STATE PARLIAMENT UPDATE
28 October 2022
STATE PARLIAMENT UPDATE👇
It was a busy week in Parliament as we wrapped up the last of three sitting weeks in a row. We will now have a two week recess before getting back to Parliament in mid-November for the last three sitting weeks of the year. Here’s what we got up to:
🌳 I gave my contribution during the debate of the Mining Amendment Bill 2022, not to be confused with the Mining Amendment Bill 2021 which I spoke on in the Upper House several weeks ago. During my speech I raised my concerns about the government introducing the ability for fees to be charged if a member of the community wants to lodge an objection to a mining tenement application. The idea that we would make people pay out of their pockets to make their voice heard on a decision is ludicrous and would create an unfair barrier for community groups fighting against problematic mining developments.
💰 A motion was moved in the Upper House which took issue with the mega-profits that mining and gas corporations make by exporting Western Australian resources in contrast to the comparatively low royalties and tax rates that these companies have to pay on these windfall profits. I spoke in support of an increase in the royalties that gas and mining companies have to pay.
👦 I questioned the State Government on the number of hours that children detained at Banksia Hill and Unit 18 at the adult Casuarina Prison are able to spend outside of their cells. A recent ruling by the WA Supreme Court found that the Department of Justice’s use of rolling lockdowns due to staff shortages, which leaves some kinds in their cells for more than 23 hours a day at times, is unlawful. Despite this, Banksia Hill and Unit 18 are still locking down these kids for inhumane amounts of time in their tiny cells.
☀ I questioned the State Government about the progress of the Kwinana big battery and whether it was still on track for completion. In some good news, the big battery installation has been completed and is due to be connected to the network by the end of 2022. Well done to the government for finally coming around to this science-based energy policy – now let’s roll out these batteries with the urgency and scale that’s necessary!
📝 I asked the State Government about the progress of the North East Rapid Transit feasibility study, which there has been no update on for the last 13 months. The response I received is that “Metronet is on track to meet the delivery of the feasibility study in 2023/24” but no date or even month was given. I will continue to monitor the progress of this feasibility study through parliamentary questions next financial year but am frustrated delivery is at least another 8 months away and probably longer!
🏡 Almost exactly a year ago the Office of the Auditor General released a report which found that the State Government had spent just 2% of the COVID-19 stimulus money they had committed to social housing. Yesterday I asked the State Government for an updated figure on how much had been spent and was told a total of $246.6 million had been spent or committed. This doesn’t actually answer the question I asked and provide a breakdown for how much has been spent!
💚 Continued to work on homelessness inquiry. I can’t help but be impressed by the work many do and the impact they make in the face of WA’s worsening homelessness crisis.
🏛 The Estimates Committee held Annual Report hearings for the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions. There were some good lines of questioning from this hearing that I will be sharing next week.
🗃 I questioned the State Government about the removal of applications from WA’s public housing waitlist. They couldn’t give me a figure of applications removed from the waitlist in the past year, as worryingly it is not a figure they track and it “would require a manual review of individual files” and “it is not considered a reasonable use of government resources”.
There were lots of other bits and pieces this week, not least of which was submitting 16 (!!) Questions on Notice to the Ministers for Corrective Services; Housing; Environment; Mines & Petroleum; and Forestry.
After three big weeks in Parliament in a row, our team is very ready for these next two weeks of recess to catch up and get our priorities organised for the final sitting stretch of the year.