Local federal MP Justine Elliot has highlighted the requirement for the proposed Tweed Hospital site at Cudgen, near Kingscliff, to be referred to the Commonwealth Minister for the Environment through a series of questions to the Minister for Environment, Melissa Price.
Ms Elliott has pointed out the ‘potential and unacceptable environmental impact on listed threatened species, ecological communities and migratory species under the Environment Protection Biodiversity and Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act)’.
Under the EPBC Act, a proponent must refer a project to the Commonwealth Minister for the Environment if it will or is likely to have a significant impact on matters of national environmental significance.
‘I’ve asked the Minister for Environment, Melissa Price, numerous questions about the inappropriate Cudgen site,’ said Ms Elliott.
Questions have drawn the Minister’s attention to the potential and unacceptable environmental impact on listed threatened species, ecological communities and migratory species.
Ms Elliott has asked the minister ‘can she explain what actions she has taken to protect the (a) water mouse, (b) wallum sedge frog, (c) southern black-throated finch, (d) Australian bittern, (e) Australian painted snipe, (f) Australian grey-headed flying fox, (g) koala, (h) Mitchell’s rainforest snail, (i) cattle egret, (j) magpie goose, (k) painted snipe, and (l) white-throated needletail, and their habitat on the proposed Cudgen hospital site.
Ms Elliott said ‘Our environment laws are there to protect our land, water and precious plants and animals for all Australians.
‘These laws provide federal oversight and a framework to ensure that developments such as the proposed Cudgen development on state significant farmland maintain integrity.’
Under the EPBC Act the minister has 20 business days to decide if the proposed action is a controlled action and therefore requires a formal assessment and approval. When a project is referred for assessment under the EPBC Act, the Minister must open it up for public consultation. This public notification period is open for a minimum of 10 business days and is published on the department’s website.
‘The decision by the NSW state government and the Tweed Nationals MP, Geoff Provest, to push this contentious project against community wishes and prior to Commonwealth assessment would be a contradiction of the conditions of the EPBC Act,’ Ms Elliott said.
‘Labor will continue to stand with our community and save the state significant farmland while building a better, faster and on budget hospital at Kings Forest.’