Thursday 19 April 2007



[11.04 a.m.]

Mr FINCH (Statement) - Mr President, the member for Windermere and I, along with you, constitute what might be termed the Legislative Council Tamar River trio. Others might have other names but the member for Windermere and I have noted your recent calls for the establishment of a Tamar River flood protection authority. I am with you, Mr President.

Mr Aird - You pay for it.

Mr FINCH - I have long advocated a single body to oversee the work which needs to be done on the Tamar silt and flood problems and I have long called for an overarching authority to coordinate all the factors affecting the river. This week the State Government rejected the idea out of hand and still does, but that is not going to make it go away. I would like to quote the Leader from earlier this week:
'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 Parkinson - Precisely.

Mr Aird - That is right.

Mr Parkinson - Thank you for repeating those words of wisdom.

Mr FINCH - Of course the Leader was referring to flood protection only, but there are numerous other factors of concern, Mr President. For example, the Friends of the Tamar Group list three main natural resource elements which it says should be risk assessed urgently. Firstly, air quality including particle and density hazards. Secondly, protection of the river and estuary in the context of factors which could cause damage such as a pulp mill development. Thirdly, water supplies and their future adequacy in the context of climate change, increasing demand and industrial use.

The Friends of the Tamar Group are particularly concerned that any threats to these elements by the proposed pulp mill will be risk assessed by the appropriate authorities. They are so concerned at the lack of any risk assessment in these fields that they have asked the Federal Environment minister

Mr Aird - You will become the Green member for Rosevears.

Mr FINCH - Decidedly grey.  
I will continue. The Friends of the Tamar Group are so concerned at the lack of any risk assessment in these fields that they have asked the Federal Environment minister to endorse their suggested risk-assessment process which they say must be completed by the relevant lead authorities and the Government together. The group has asked me to put the facts to the State Government as a matter of urgency.
A spokesman for the group, Laurie Crerar, points out that risk assessment is legally required as part of due diligence and governance of all government departments, local councils and authorities to protect, inform and control these respective obligations on behalf of the community they serve. The Friends of the Tamar Group, Mr President, is one of several well-meaning and dedicated bodies looking at the future of the Tamar. I believe they need the support of an overarching authority to help coordinate their efforts and strengthen their pursuit of funding.

The State Government is well aware of the flood protection urgency as the Leader demonstrated in his reply to my question earlier in the week. The Leader mentioned $700 000 already contributed for levee design and planning costs and the recent offer of the $10 million, conditional on a similar Federal contribution which, no doubt, will be confirmed as election time approaches for the member for Bass.
The Leader also spoke of the contribution to dredging costs over 25 years and the $150 000 a year for levee maintenance. There is no quibble over the State Government's monetary support, Mr President, but these problems are not solved by money alone.