Ballina MP Tamara Smith and Nationals Parliamentary Secretary for Northern NSW Ben Franklin have become embroiled in a ‘who said what’ stoush over proposed development at West Byron.
Ms Smith took a swipe at Mr Franklin in parliament as she questioned NSW Planning Minister Anthony Roberts whether the government would act on concerns raised by the community about the social, environmental and economic impacts of the mega development application for West Byron.
‘Having previously raised with the Minister our community’s concern about the detrimental impacts of the West Byron proposal on the Belongil estuary and Cape Byron Marine Park, to the threatened koala and Wallum froglet species on the site and the known horrendous traffic impact of the development on residents and tourists; I asked the Minister on the floor of Parliament today to act on those concerns,’ Ms Smith said.
‘I was able to secure a commitment from the Planning Minister to monitor the developments but the message I got loud and clear is that we as a community need to make sure we express our concerns formally if we stand any chance of reining in this mega development.
‘While I was asking this question in the Legislative Assembly, the National-Liberal coalition in the Upper House voted down a Greens’ motion against the West Byron mega development.
‘One of those who voted down the motion was the National’s Northern NSW spokesperson who on 2 March was quoted in the media saying he had ‘serious and genuine concerns about the development – particularly with regard to its size and scale.
‘I was informed that the Parliamentary Secretary for Northern NSW has never raised any concerns about the West Byron development with the Planning Minister. As they say: actions speak louder than words.’
Ben Franklin responds
Mr Franklin expressed his disappointment in the Ballina MP regarding her press release on West Byron.
Ms Smith referred to a motion in the Upper House opposing the West Byron development and suggested that Mr Franklin was ‘one of those who voted down the motion.’
‘This suggestion is untrue. I did not vote against the motion. The Government Whip objected to it being passed. The rules of the Legislative Council state that when any single member objects to a motion it stays on the notice paper to be debated at a later date. I look forward to contributing to that debate in the future,’ Mr Franklin said.
Ms Smith also said in her media release that she ‘was informed that the Parliamentary Secretary for Northern NSW has never raised any concerns about the West Byron development with the Planning Minister’.
However in his response to Ms Smith’s question Minister Roberts stated that ‘I have been advised by the Parliamentary Secretary for the North Coast, Ben Franklin, that he has heard from many locals who have also expressed many reservations’.
‘Ms Smith may have asked a question, but it’s a shame she didn’t listen to the answer before sending out her press release,’ Mr Franklin said.
‘I do however agree with her on one thing. It is critical that the community formally make a submission before 29 March to ensure that their views are known on the West Byron development.
‘My position on West Byron is clear. I believe existing infrastructure is inadequate for such a development. If it is approved it is critical that the JRPP put in place conditions that address the nature of the development and the infrastructure necessary to deal with it.’
Submissions on the development can be made to [email protected]