Minister for the Environment, Gabrielle Upton, has shown her ineptitude and incompetence in Question Time on Thursday after being asked about a 17 kilometre illegal canal discovered on a private property near Tea Gardens in 2017.
In her response, Minister Upton indicated she was completely unaware of the canal, but insisted she was happy to meet with the Member for Port Stephens, Kate Washington, to hear about the issue.
This admission is astonishing given her own agency, the NSW Environment Protection Authority, is currently involved in a major investigation into this unprecedented breach. The EPA has been aware of the large-scale unlawful development since 11 December 2017.
Despite her apparent ignorance, Ms Upton has received multiple letters since January 2018 from Ms Washington and others regarding the 20 meter-wide illegal canal. Embarrassingly, documents show Ms Upton referred the matter to Parliamentary Secretary Scot MacDonald earlier this year, who then responded on behalf of the Government in March 2018 under Ms Upton’s letterhead.
The Environment Minister’s ignorance of this significant and unprecedented case of environmental destruction demonstrates how poorly suited she is lead the state’s environmental regulators.
Quotes attributable to Kate Washington MP
“I am astonished by the Minister’s complete ignorance of this issue. We’re talking about significant and unprecedented environmental destruction here.
“How can we trust that the government is taking this matter seriously if the relevant Minister is totally unaware of the problem.
“I’ve received responses written on behalf of Minister Upton regarding these illegal earthworks, but today in Parliament we found out she doesn’t know anything about it. It shows how inept she is at her job. It once again proves she is completely unsuited to the role of overseeing the state’s environmental laws.
“If she really didn’t know anything about this illegal canal, she should step aside and let someone capable do her job properly.”
This item was distributed as a media release on Friday 18 May 2018.