By Karen Fletcher
BRISBANE — A historic alliance of conservationists, left parties, resident group activists and Australian Democrats has condemned the Liberal City Council's decision to place a massive land-fill dump in Rochedale, a residential suburb on Brisbane's south side.
The Green Alliance, a broad coalition of activists contesting the Brisbane City Council elections on March 23, has put forward a comprehensive policy of waste minimisation and recycling as an alternative to land-fill dumps.
Drew Hutton, the Green Alliance candidate for mayor, recently announced that the Alliance would be endorsing a candidate, Jane Williamson-Fien, for the ward of Rochedale in addition to the 11 candidates already endorsed for the BCC election.
"The council should have begun a waste minimisation and recycling strategy years ago", Hutton said. "The decision to go ahead with a massive land fill at any site is environmentally disastrous. With such a massive hole in the ground to tip our rubbish into, there is no incentive for either the council or Brisbane residents to practise waste minimisation or recycling."
The Rochedale decision has angered local residents who will face toxic leachate, odours and traffic increase from a mass of garbage which is expected to rise to the height of an 18-storey building. Protest meetings of more than 2000 people have been held in the suburb, organised by the Southside Action Group.
Labor Party policy for the forthcoming election is firmly against the construction of the dump at Rochedale but does not rule out the possibility of land-fill tips at a more remote and less residential site.
The Green Alliance has called for an investigation of the financial dealings associated with the contract between the council and Pacific Waste Management for construction and management of the dump. Pacific Waste will be paid $545 million for the 30-year contract.
The Rochedale site cost Pacific Waste $4.5 million to purchase in 1989. Under the deal with the council, the company will receive $14.2 million for the 81 hectare site. Liberal Mayor Sallyanne Atkinson has admitted that the site could not have increased in value and that around $9 million of the sale price is "interest and associated charges". It has been revealed that Atkinson's eldest daughter was employed by Pacific Waste Management for a few months part-time while she was studying for a higher degree in
environmental law in London.
Campaign coordinator for the Green Alliance Maurice Sibelle says a Green council would not exclude local residents from important decisions which affect their area and would not place the desires of developers and commercial concerns above the needs and wishes of the community.
"The cornerstone of our large body of policy is our commitment to community participation", said Sibelle. "The tendency for dodgy financial dealing at local government level will be eliminated by an open and democratic system of community participation in local decision making. We don't just want our Green candidates in council, we want the community in council.
"The people of Rochedale have been locked out. Greens and Democrats have been locked out. We see the March 23 election as our chance to begin to get inside government and shake up the cosy two-party system currently in place."