Greens MLC Ian Cohen says the Repco Rally planned for northern NSW is a ‘dinosaur’ and should not go ahead.
“The State government should not allow the Repco Rally to go ahead in Northern NSW,” Mr Cohen said.
“I am seeking answers to a number of questions I have put to Carmel Tebbutt, Minister for the Environment, and to Michael Daley, Minister for Roads, about this event.
“In an area of high biodiversity at a time when oil production has peaked and is in decline, this rally is a dinosaur.
“It’s a fuel-guzzling, filthy and environmentally destructive sport. When rally drivers want to speed through the kinds of parks that people on the North Coast have fought so hard to protect, it’s not surprising the rally is becoming so provocative an event.”
Mr Cohen said the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the rally was still being prepared and was not likely to be ready before the Development Application is due to be approved this month, yet the rally organisers are already promoting it.
“The Minister needs to be apprised of the about-face way this rally is being organised. It is too important and sensitive an environment for this kind of ad hoc planning,” he said.
“My questions to the minister are designed to assure the people of the Kyogle and Tweed shires that no environmentally sensitive lands will be affected by the rally.
“I am receiving a lot of information from local people about the rally going through the habitats of threatened or protected species.
“I will also be asking the Department of Environment and Climate Change to ensure that there will be no adverse impacts on sensitive forest areas in Kyogle Shire that have been identified as potential core koala habitat.
“What funding are these affected national parks likely to receive in terms of infrastructure funding and any remediation funding that is likely to be needed after the rally and its attendant crowds have been through?
“The rally’s organisers are saying they expect 20,000 people to attend. What kind of impact is this going to have on national parks?
“A number of studies show motor racing events are linked to an increase in road accidents off the racetrack. I will also be asking Michael Daley, Minister for Roads, whether he has any concerns that the rally will undermine the government’s Speeding: no one thinks big of you campaign.”
Mr Cohen said the issue of copycat driving is serious. “Is the rally going to provoke copycat drivers to burn through the national parks leaving a wake of damaged plants and dead animals?” he said.
“More disturbingly, of the 20,000 potential copycat spectators, what could be the loss of human life engendered by this bad example of driver behaviour?
“The organisers are pressing ahead when there are too many unanswered questions about this rally. The people of the North Coast deserve answers from Minister Tebbutt before it is allowed to proceed.”