CANAL ROCKS DEVELOPMENT
Can the minister please advise the house of how the mess and controversy surrounding the Smiths Beach development came about?
Several members interjected.
The SPEAKER: Order! I call to order the members for Avon and Darling Range.
Ms A.J.G. MacTIERNAN replied:
I thank the member for the question. It is very important that we understand the background of the Canal Rocks issue and how we came to be in a position in 2001, when we came into government, of having to rectify the mess that had been created by the previous government. Some very interesting facts will come out of this situation. The previous government made the very sensible decision to develop the Leeuwin Naturaliste Ridge Statement of Planning Policy. It recognised that the Leeuwin-Naturaliste coast is a very important and highly sensitive area, and that we need to determine the number of people who can be contained within this area. It recognised also that we need to develop a policy that will govern the future management of this area. In 1997 the draft statement of planning policy was advertised. That allowed for limited development at Smiths Beach. In fact, it provided on one analysis for a maximum population of 500 people, of which only one-third could be permanent residents.
On the most generous interpretation, it allowed for a total population of 750 people, of which only one-third could be permanent residents. That policy was advertised and it was widely supported. Lo and behold, when it was finally gazetted a year or two later, the provision had changed substantially. The development capacity for this area was expanded quite dramatically. Instead of a maximum, even under the most generous interpretation of the advertised scheme with a total population of 750 but maybe only 500, it was suddenly at least doubled to the permitted population of 1 500 people. Not only that, a new footnote was included to say that that figure was only a rough guide and it might be more or less. It was not being limited to this particular provision. That was a cause for concern for the community. The community was horrified when it saw the structure plan that came out in 2000 showing how that developer intended to implement that provision. This new provision had allowed 21 hectares to be developed as permanent residential and only seven hectares were set aside for tourism, yet this was supposed to be a tourism node. The most interesting thing is that between the time the scheme was advertised and gazetted, a donation of $5 000 was made by Canal Rocks Pty Ltd to the Liberal Party.
This is the mess that we inherited. I am very proud of the way we have dealt with this matter. We took very swift action to reverse that process. The member for Vasse has acknowledged that what we did was right and what we put in place in amending the Leeuwin-Naturaliste Ridge Statement of Planning Policy and directing the Shire of Busselton to change its town planning scheme has protected that area and made sure that this is not a de facto residential development but a tourism node, and one that will protect the natural heritage values of that area.