Legislative Council Hansard

Tuesday 17 April 2007


[2.49 p.m.]

Mr FINCH (Question) - My question is to the honourable Leader. Is the Government giving consideration to the establishment of a Tamar River flood protection authority?

Mr PARKINSON - I thank the honourable member for his question. The State Government and the Launceston City Council have been having productive discussions for some years now on how best to move forward to deal with the very real risk of flooding in the Invermay area. The State Government has now committed $10 million this financial year to upgrade the Launceston flood levees. This commitment is conditional on the Launceston City Council and the Commonwealth Government committing a similar amount to the program and Michael Ferguson should stop playing games. He has clearly been caught with his pants down in this instance. The State Government has already contributed $700 000 to design and planning costs associated with the new flood protection measures, including receiving independent expert technical advice. That contribution is on top of the proposed $10 million commitment.

In addition, for more than 25 years the Government has provided $150 000 per year towards the recurrent maintenance costs of the current levee and $250 000 to dredging operations in the Tamar River. This contribution will continue in future years and will be indexed to maintain its real value. This is a significant funding package designed to help protect the homes and businesses of Launceston residents, most particularly residents in the flood-prone areas of Invermay. A number of models for future governance have been examined.

The State Government has concluded that an appropriate arms-length authority can be established via the Launceston City Council under the Local Government Act. Under this model, the Launceston council can set up an expert-based board to assist in ensuring that the flood issues are properly addressed, both in the short and long term. The council will have responsibility but there is a clear mechanism for expert input for forward financial planning to deal with ongoing maintenance costs, et cetera.

The State Government does not believe there is a need to legislate for the establishment of a separate statutory flood protection authority outside of the Launceston City Council. We do not believe another bureaucracy of that scale is warranted and we believe the money is best spent on fixing the levee problem.
Mr President, the State Government has shown real leadership on this issue, along with the Launceston mayor, and we look forward to the Commonwealth also playing its part in ensuring the flood risk is responsibly dealt with.