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    Assembly sit 04/12/2020

Parliamentary Questions

Question Without Notice No. 1094 asked in the Legislative Council on 25 September 2019 by Hon Dr Steve Thomas

Minister responding: Hon M. McGowan
Parliament: 40 Session: 1

Answered on 25 September 2019


1094. Hon Dr STEVE THOMAS to the Leader of the House representing the Minister for Public Sector Management:

I refer to PFAS-contaminated soil excavated from the Forrestfield–Airport Link and to information obtained under freedom of information laws that revealed an email exchange from 21 March to 27 March 2018, which were described as emails between the Department of Premier and Cabinet and the Public Transport Authority and a third party as attached.

(1) Who from DPC wrote an email on 21 March 2018, apparently to someone in the consulting firm RPS Group, stating —

I note your comments on the Robustness of the Assessment, but, to be very clear, I do want it included.

(2) Why was DPC attempting to bully the consultant RPS to change its opinion in its document ''Forrestfield–Airport Link Assessment of the Suitability of Perth Airport as a Site for Reuse of Tunnel Spoil from the Forrestfield–Airport Link'' by writing its own DPC version of section 5.4?

(3) When RPS responded to the proposed DPC rewrite of section 5.4 entitled ''Robustness of the Assessment'' in an email saying, ''For the most part we're not able to take on board the comments/inserted text'', did DPC simply ignore that advice and continue to make up its own section 5.4?

(4) Who in DPC then distributed the marked-up document ''with DPC changes and comments'' on 27 March 2018 and stated in the email —

However, you will see that I have reinserted a (slightly edited) version of the ''robustness of the assessment'' section that we prepared earlier. I am concerned that this was dismissed by RPS previously on a wholesale basis �

(5) Does DPC regularly attempt to intimidate environmental consultants and environmental regulators to get outcomes in the interest of the state, and who in DPC is engaged in this behaviour?

Several members interjected.

Point of Order

Hon SIMON O'BRIEN: Could I move that the member's time be extended!

The PRESIDENT: No. That is not a point of order. I realise that the matter is of significance to the member, but, again, I remind members that questions need to be concise. If you want an appropriate answer, you need to think about what you are asking for. I think some parts of that question might have been seeking an opinion as well as fact.

Question without Notice Resumed

Hon SUE ELLERY replied:

I thank the honourable member for some notice of the question.

(1)–(5) The premise on which the question is based is incorrect. The Public Transport Authority engaged a consultant to complete two reports regarding the proposal to re-use tunnel spoil containing trace amounts of PFAS from the Forrestfield–Airport Link project at the Perth Airport site. One of the reports was a standard technical site-specific risk assessment intended for a technical audience. The second report was a high-level strategic document that provided an assessment of the suitability of the tunnel spoil for re-use at the Perth Airport site from an environmental perspective. This second report was intended to be for a non-technical audience. The Department of the Premier and Cabinet worked with the consultant to refine the strategic document, including providing advice to ensure that it was sufficiently high level and addressed the strategic issues in an appropriate manner for the intended non-technical audience. The department worked constructively with the consultant on this process and the consultant remained responsible for preparing and issuing the final report.