ADJOURNMENT | INDUSTRIAL SITE FIRES

Mr Melhem (Western Metropolitan): My adjournment matter is directed to the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, the Honourable Lily D’Ambrosio, MLA, in the other place. I note the recent fires that have occurred across Melbourne’s suburbs at industrial sites in Footscray West in August last year and Campbellfield in April this year. It is concerning to see that in both the case of Campbellfield and that of Footscray West the owners of these premises look to have illegally stockpiled dangerous chemicals against existing regulations and licenses. The West Footscray fire in my electorate particularly had severe ramifications for nearby Stony Creek and surrounding parklands, with water from firefighting efforts discharged into the creek. The north-west and western suburbs have seen an increase in industrial-residential mixed suburbs areas that have evolved due to the urbanisation of previous manufacturing hubs in inner city areas.

Given this dramatic change in suburban living, this government has a responsibility to take adequate steps to ensure that people can feel safe living in these areas and are not at risk of potential exposure to dangerous chemicals. I welcome the changes that were made to the Environment Protection Act, passed in August 2018, that are due to take effect next year. Some of them will take effect now. I also welcome the significant increase in EPA inspections conducted since the West Footscray fire—2225 inspections in the last financial year alone. The strong response to illegal waste crimes and the increase in inspections is exactly what needs to happen to make our suburbs safe.

The action I seek from the minister is that the government continue to support and strengthen the regulations and regulators that oversee the management of chemical and industrial waste in residential and industrial areas, and apply the full force of the law against the people who actually continue to breach the current laws. They think they can get away with it. I hope that the minister will basically go there and instruct the agencies—like the Environment Protection Authority Victoria and others—to come down like a ton of bricks on these people and make sure that that does not continue to occur in our suburbs, because our residents are entitled to feel safe in their homes.