Policy wasteland wafts from Perth dump

By Paul Hemsley and Julian Bajkowski

The president of the Western Australia Local Government Association (WALGA), Troy Pickard, tipped a bucket on both the State Government and Opposition over environmentally harmful waste management policies being touted in vote grabs ahead of the March election.

The accusations from the peak body revolve around proposals from both major parties to deal with the electorally challenging aromas drifting across suburban Perth from the Regional Waste Recovery Centre in Canning Vale.

The waste facility has been a source of controversy since 2002 because of its prominent bouquet which has remained firmly on the nose with local residents – despite efforts to deodorise the site.

However it is not only the rubbish that stinks.

Most recently the smelly tip was cited as an example of poor administration in a report stemming from a Department of Local Government inquiry into the removal of the City of Canning’s chief executive at the behest of councillors.

The inquiry resulted in Local Government Minister John Castrilli suspending the council in late November 2012, but the tip’s role as a political football has endured.

According to WALGA, the Liberal members for Riverton and Jandakot have suggested that household waste from the plant should be incinerated in a power plant. At the same time “the Opposition Leader issued a statement on behalf of local ALP candidates calling for the composting facility at the plant to be closed and the waste moved to landfill.”

Both proposals are regarded as environmentally sub-optimal by WALGA. Mr Pickard said an additional 65,000 and 85,000 tonnes of household waste would go to landfill or be incinerated if they went ahead.

Mr Pickard said that the future of the facility and the treatment of the waste is a far too important issue for policy solution “seemingly made up on the run to placate a relatively small group in the community”.

“The SMRC is not pretending they do not have a problem and have been working to meet the increasing stringent licence conditions imposed by the Department in a very tight timeline,” he said.

He said Jandakot, Riverton and Southern River are marginal seats that will help decide which party is the next State Government. “It is important that commitments are made in the best interests of the wider community not just in the interests of political expediency.”

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