Upper House MP Rod Barton has called on the Minister for Planning to assure the public that the North East Link public hearings won’t be hijacked by government-paid lawyers.
Mr BARTON (Eastern Metropolitan) (12:48:36): My constituency question is addressed to the Minister for Planning, Richard Wynne. My office has received countless calls and emails over the last 40 days from people concerned about the effects of the proposed North East Link Project. Since the submission closing date last week, I have had questions regarding the ‘lawyering up’ of the project managers and their requests to present to the expert panel over a nine-day period before the public hearing begins. The project managers had previously told the public they do not need lawyers. These people who want to appear before the panel are feeling quite intimidated by this, especially given that the lawyers have also sought an additional day to refute the details presented by others. I support the North East Link and I believe it is a very important project for my constituency, but I ask the minister to assure locals appearing at the panel hearings that it will not be an interrogation requiring them to ‘lawyer up’ and defend their point of view.