Perth rivers in ‘palliative care’ after decades of mismanagement

The Swan and Canning rivers are on life support after a decade of being treated as a “political football”, a provocative new report by a collective of WA policy and environmental experts says.

My Clean River, a new group of chemical industry and urban planning experts, and current and former public servants, have published a confronting description of five concrete and steel oxygen injectors operating in the rivers as “palliative care systems”.

The report – Swan Resource 2017 – says the government has been for some years treating the river’s “symptoms”, but not its disease, avoiding direct action on polluters for fear of backlash from the agricultural sector.

The news follows the Department of Parks and Wildlife’s April 21 and April 28 warnings to the public not to eat shellfish from Melville and Perth as algal blooms impacted the river.

Read more at WAtoday

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$3 million saves one Perth wetland – but what about the rest?

The state forking out $1.5 million will help Bayswater council double its money and save ‘Carter’s Lot’, but activists say many other vital urban wetlands are exposed to developers because of an archaic classification system.

Despite vocal disagreement from some of Perth’s most prominent scientists who rated its ecological significance highly, ‘Carter’s’ wetland management category was as low as they go.

Environmental organisations, local MP Lisa Baker and Bayswater councillors joined the community in a nine-month campaign against a large housing subdivision planned for the site.

They carried out protests outside Parliament and Ministerial offices, fundraisers, petitions and letter-writing drives, convinced development would not only devastate Carter’s but also lay waste to the millions in state and local government funds spent on restoring the adjacent Eric Singleton Bird Sanctuary.

During the campaign, documents released under Freedom of Information showed planning approvals were issued and clearing began based on half-complete environmental reports.

Planning Minister Rita Saffioti announced this week funding to honour her election commitment, to match Bayswater’s bid to buy back the land from private ownership.

Read more at WAtoday

This article is the fourth in a series:

  1. ‘Damaging’ development approved on doorstep of $3 million wetland
  2. Minister halts bulldozers on doorstep of $3 million wetland
  3. Government approves wetland bulldozing based on environmental study of wrong lot

High Hazard

WA’s shark mitigation strategy is based on sophisticated science – so its hunt-to-kill policy for sharks that are “a serious threat” remains controversial.

Aftermath of a shark bite at Mandurah, WA.

Late in the spring of 2000, businessman and father Ken Crew had his leg torn off by a great white shark in shallow water metres off Perth’s Cottesloe Beach.

Another swimmer dragged Crew from the water, in full view of bystanders and Crew’s wife, but he bled to death on the sand.

“Making matters even worse was the water was full of blood and the shark, for whatever reason, stays there and circles,” says researcher Christopher Neff. “It’s breaking news in every home; everyone is screaming, ‘Kill the shark!’

“The government, after a long and unfortunate delay trying to contact the minister for permission, while the public is freaking out, then fishes – without success – for the shark, which is long gone.”

There have been 55 incidents of unprovoked shark bites in WA since the start of 2000, according to the Global Shark Attack File – 14 of them fatal. But Crew’s death, forming a cluster with the deaths of surfers Cameron Bayes and Jevan Wright off South Australia in the same year, was a tipping point for Western Australia, says Dr Neff, a public policy researcher at the University of Sydney whose professional life has revolved around examining people’s – and governments’ – responses to shark bites.

Read more in an interactive feature at WAtoday

Perth’s urban sprawl threatens endangered banksia woodlands

Banksia at Bold Park, one of the areas of remnant woodland.  Photo: Rob Davis

Banksia at Bold Park, one of the areas of remnant woodland. Photo: Rob Davis

The banksia woodlands of Perth’s Swan Coastal Plain have just been declared endangered by the federal government – but they’re right on top of some prime development land.

Read more at WAtoday.

Government approves wetland bulldozing based on environmental study of wrong lot

While the development is planned for both Carters and Skipper's, the environmental study was done on Skippers, a bare patch of earth.

While the development is planned for both Carters and Skipper’s, the environmental study was done on Skippers, a bare patch of earth.

Approvals for a controversial development at an ecologically significant site in Bayswater were based on incomplete environmental assessments, documents have revealed.

Read more at WAtoday.

Mt Lawley ‘church steeple’ tree felled for private development

A local's hopeless protest.  Photo: Supplied

A local’s hopeless protest. Photo: Supplied

A towering Mt Lawley tree described by the local heritage society as a ‘church steeple’ in the landscape has got the chop, as its trunk grew slightly over the council boundary and on to a private development site.

Read more at WAtoday.