Questioning the Government on the contamination at Williamtown

In Parliament | 17.11.16

The Hon. PENNY SHARPE (15:10): My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industries, and Minister for Lands and Water. I refer to the Minister's 13 October 2015 statement in relation to the Williamtown contamination in which he said that he would be:

… ensuring that as the polluter the Department of Defence pays for the impacts on people and their livelihoods, the clean-up and the costs to the New South Wales Government in managing the contamination and related costs …

How much has been recouped so far by the New South Wales Government from the Department of Defence?


The Hon. NIALL BLAIR (Minister for Primary Industries , and Minister for Lands and Water) (15:11): As I have said on the matter of Williamtown, the NSW Environment Protection Authority [EPA] is the lead agency handling that response. It is not something on which my department has had the lead. The member will know that this Government is committed to providing reticulated water for those affected within the contamination zone. I know there has been some progress on recouping some of the expenses from the Commonwealth in relation to that outlay. I was alerted to an article today in the Newcastle Herald on water and the impact that contaminated water has had on a family. The commitment remains: We will uphold the polluter pays principle. I cannot give a detailed answer but I will take this question on notice. I am sure that my agency will be able to speak to the EPA or to the Office of Environment and Heritage to see whether they have any information on the matter. I will come back to the member with that information.

All our offices rely on having information available and contacts within our agencies to draw on. That includes department liaison officers [DLO] in our offices. Today I say farewell to Michelle Guido, the DLO from Sydney Water in my office responsible for providing information like this and linking to information from Hunter Water and Sydney Water. The Hon. Greg Pearce will attest to the role that DLOs, particularly in State-owned corporations like Sydney Water, play in ministerial offices. Today is Michelle's last day and last question time with me. I know that Sydney Water will be well served when she returns to her normal role. I thank Michelle for her service and wish her all the best in the rest of her career.