Thursday 2 November 2006


Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - Mr Deputy President, the Launceston flood threat needs addressing urgently. We have heard that from the mayor and from the member for Windermere, particularly in the light of changing weather patterns which are predicted to bring even more severe weather events.
Mr Parkinson - And no rain.
Members laughing.
Mr FINCH - I therefore strongly support this motion, but with some reservations. I thank the Launceston City Council for a tour that was organised to have a look at the levee system and I think a lot of us were shocked at some of the deterioration that was taking place. It was quite compelling to embrace the issue when we saw that water bubbling up on the other side of the levees, on the living side of the levees where the water just bubbles up and gurgles away above the ground. It is obvious that something is amiss with the levee system. It was obvious to us during that tour that Launceston's flood protection levees are old and they are inadequate. If there is one lesson that we can learn from the New Orleans disaster it is that badly maintained flood levees are breached when they are put under pressure. When levees break there is no stopping the rising flood waters.
The first clause in the motion speaks of appropriate plans for future maintenance of flood barriers. That is well and good but potential threats seem to indicate that there is a strong case for rebuilding and strengthening some levees rather than just the maintenance. I believe it is a mistake to confine our concerns for the sake of the existing flood protection measures.
The third phase listed in the motion, No. (1)(c), hints at my thinking when it speaks of a review of current land-use and building controls to minimise the impacts in the event of a flood. Mr Deputy President, let us take a wider view. Launceston's problem is that it is virtually centred on the junction of two rivers, the North Esk and South Esk, which are prone to flooding separately or at the same time. They enter a tidal estuary and when there is a combination of flooding in the two Esks and the tidal factors, low-lying areas of Launceston are in big trouble, as we saw in the 1929 floods.
Mrs Smith - Are you that old?
Mr FINCH - I remember it vividly. I have seen the photos. Levees will no doubt help in those circumstances but I believe it is only part of the answer.
This motion is a good start, Mr President, but I also urge the Federal and State governments and the Launceston City Council to consider suggestions and ideas to redevelop the upper Tamar itself.