Thursday 7 July 2011
Hansard of the Legislative Council

Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - Madam President, of course, what we do not want to do is send a negative message to potential investors in Tasmania including those who want to invest in coastal development. But we do have to look very closely indeed into the possible adverse effects of coastal development. Above all, we must listen to the community. I think that is my message today. I think we have all seen, since the Budget, what can happen when the community feels that it has not been heard.
We have seen the test case for proposed canal development where the message from the community at Lauderdale was loud and clear. The community did not want a canal development. We have heard a wake-up call from the community over the school closure issue. Ignore strong community views and it is fair to say you are not doing your job as an elected community representative.
Madam President, there are justifiable concerns about so-called canal estates, especially with predictions of sea-level rises because of melting ice caps, as we have heard this morning in our briefing. We have all received numerous submissions on this bill - and people would probably think a handful - but I have been bombarded by e-mails and they have been stored - I have retained them all. It has been quite a divided issue in our community.
Some submissions, probably most, have contained very cogent arguments. Some opposing a ban on canal estates speak of the need for development investment in hard economic times but others fail to see much economic stimulus from canal estate development and some even see future costs to local government.
I will just give one example - Jenny Fuller of South Hobart, and I quote:
'The infrastructure requirements for canal developments - drainage, land reclamation, protection from the sea, and impact on the nearby land areas are very costly. If a canal development stalls during construction, or fails to sell when complete, the taxpaying community is likely to end up footing the bill, and the damage to the environment has already been done, so if rehabilitation is needed, it is most unlikely that developers will be required to meet that cost - tax and rate payers are again left 'holding the baby'.
Flow of water around a canal estate to mitigate against build-up of silt, pests such as mosquitoes, stagnation of the water, and the attendant smell presents challenges which have not been satisfactorily resolved in mainland canal estates.'
That is the end of the quote and one of a number of submissions that came to me along similar lines. It is fair to say, Madam President, that Tasmania needs capital investment but it should be capital investment that will help sustain Tasmania in the future. Residential canals may have a temporary influx of capital for clearing of land, diverting waterways to make the canal and building of houses on the canal development and after that, there will not be any further capital influx.
However, if capital is instead invested in agriculture or resource development, there is a long-term benefit to the State. Residential canals of course look good when they are first developed and I am a great fan. I remember living on the Gold Coast when Bruce Small was the mayor - many years ago - and he was a great promoter of canals and they were very much appreciated by people who moved to the Gold Coast to live there.
Mr Wilkinson - You have still got a pair of white shoes up there, haven't you?
Mr FINCH - They do tend to attract financially secure people in -
Mr Wilkinson - White shoes.
Members laughing.
Mr FINCH - However, those people do not normally bring other capital into the State. Canal developments may, however, become a burden on local government and State government departments who are then tasked with keeping the waterways clear. Some argue that a ban is not needed, that any coastal development proposal can be judged on its merits. However, that does create uncertainty for would-be developers and as we have heard in our presentation this morning, there is of course certainty if there is a ban. At least developers know exactly where they stand.
As the Government says, a ban on coastal estates in Tasmania will provide clarity and certainty to potential investors and spare them the significant time and expense involved in pursuing projects that are not sustainable and are likely to be rejected by the Planning Commission. According to submissions that I have received, canal developments are banned in some mainland States, including Victoria and New South Wales, and if I listen to the Tasmanian community, I hear a clear message that canal developments are not wanted in Tasmania. I support the bill.