The Bulla Spoil Facility managed by Hi-Quality. Photo / Degnan (October 2022)

Hi-Quality spoil extension debate deferred by councillors

A discussion on a proposal to extend the life of the Bulla Spoil Processing Facility was deferred by members of Hume City Council on Tuesday 12 March – but not before Cllr Jack Medcraft removed himself from the discussion.

Sonya Kilkenny, Minister for Planning, wrote to council asking for its feedback on a proposed extension of Hi-Quality’s licence so it could continue operating its Sunbury Rd spoil facility until 2048. It was due to close this year, having been opened under urgency to handle spoil from the Westgate Tunnel Project. See our earlier report here.

Hume City Councillor Jack Medcraft.
Cllr Jack Medcraft.

Council staff had drafted a letter for the mayor to sign, and this played a part in councillors voting to delay a debate on its response. The last time an item was deferred was 18 December 2023 when discussion on a ballot system for kindergarten enrolments was taken off the agenda (the item hasn’t appeared since).

At Tuesday’s meeting Cllr Medcraft told mayor Naim Kurt there were people in the community who believed he had an interest in Hi-Quality, and because of this did not want to take part in the debate.

When Cllr Medcraft was pushed by the mayor as to whether he had an interest to declare, Cllr Medcraft said: “No, it’s a perceived conflict by some members of the public. It’s not mine. I don’t have an interest, I haven’t received anything. There’s nothing in it for me.”

Mayor Kurt said: “Being there is no conflict of interest being declared you are welcome to participate in the debate on this item.”

Sunbury councillor Jarrod Bell.
Cllr Jarrod Bell.

Cllr Haweil (Aitken ward) moved to debate the council’s response at its next ordinary meeting on Monday 25 March.

“There are a few items in there that I have questions about, things that I would like to see once again and clarified, and I don’t want to take up everyone’s time moving a series of amendments,” said Cllr Haweil.

“And given we have been advised we have a two-week extension [to respond to Kilkenny] I think it appropriate to consider it off-line.”

Seconding Cllr Haweil’s motion was Sunbury (Jackson Creek) Cllr Jarrod Bell.

He said: “I think this is an incredibly important question that we are being asked…Especially across the community there has been some concern, and some confusion, regarding the twin Hi-Quality situation with [its proposed] waste-to-energy situation and this amendment proposal as well.

Sunbury councillor Trevor Dance.
Cllr Trevor Dance.

“I think there is possibly a little bit more work to be done to refine council’s position, to make sure we get the community’s concerns, issues, and ideas across to the government.”

Sunbury Cllr Trevor Dance said: “I have been asking question after question for the last two weeks…

“I don’t think there is any confusion in the community. One is a waste-to-energy [proposal] and one is where the government wants to consider Hi-Quality’s audacity to ask for a further 24 years on the use of that property. It has sparked a lot of interest from the public.”

Cllr Dance said he appreciated the extra time to review the proposal saying it would give him time to dig into the detail. 

“Council officers have run around and done their best in a short time,” he said. “But I need more time as a councillor to read the fine print even more, so when we come back to the next council meeting we all know what we are talking about.”

Councillors voted to defer the item. Cllr Medcraft did not speak during this debate.

See our report on Hi-Quality’s waste-to-energy proposal here.

A promotional video for the temporary Bulla spoil facility released in August 2021.
The spoil facility February 2022.