Call for better Peel Harvey Estuary oversight

MURRAY-Wellington MLA Murray Cowper claims the State Government has a responsibility to reinstate a formal management structure for the Peel Harvey Estuary following debate on its future in Parliament.

But Environment Minister Albert Jacob said the long-term future of the estuary was best protected by investment in science and a co-ordinated management response, rather than another layer of bureaucracy.

Mr Cowper said the last effective management of the estuary was under the Peel Inlet Management Authority, set up in the 1980s.

“PIMA required all relevant government agencies to pool their resources and work with local expertise to address and resolve the many threats to the waterway,’’ he said.

“I could never understand why PIMA was dismantled in 2004 by the Gallop Government because since then management has become fragmented and dysfunctional.’’

Mr Cowper said there was a unique opportunity for the State Government to replace a disjointed management system administered under an informal arrangement by the Department of Premier and Cabinet.

“The Government needs to nominate a single minister to be responsible for estuary management and the co-ordination of other agencies and relevant community groups.”

Mr Cowper said under the current arrangement, government agencies were able to avoid their responsibilities and the opportunity for practical local input, and common sense was not always at the forefront.

“At stake are not only the environmental threats to the system, but also the rapidly growing future potential for tourism, recreation and the development of food, mining and other industries.”

He said emerging problems ranged from rising salinity in Lake Clifton to the failure to resolve jetty problems along the Murray River and the impact of Water Corporation policies on the North and South Dandalup rivers.

Mr Jacob said the State Government established the Peel-Harvey Estuary Management Committee, involving chief executives of key government agencies, local government, Peel Harvey Catchment Council and Peel Development Commission that honoured a pre-election commitment.

“The current Strategic Assessment of the Perth and Peel Regions is considering issues relating to the estuary, including drainage, tourism, recreation and sustainable industry,’’ he said.

“A stakeholder reference group is also providing advice into the assessment.’’