In Environment

Tasmania Opposition Leader Will Hodgman

$9.5 Million To Clean Up The Tamar

Victor P Taffa

A Hodgman Liberal Government will invest $9.5 Million in the economic and environmental future of Northern Tasmania by tackling the major and continuing silt problem in the Tamar River, Opposition Leader Will Hodgman said.

The Liberals will also set up a single state authority to manage Tamar River and the Esk River catchments into the future.

A Hodgman Liberal Government will invest $7.4 Million over three years to conduct a major dredging program consistent with Option 3 in the Sedimentation Study Report prepared by the consultants GHD for the Launceston City Council. In addition, a permanent Tamar and Esk Rivers Management Authority will be established to manage the silt problem in the longer term.

The board of the new Authority would be selected to ensure an appropriate mix of estuarine, marine, environmental and economic expertise and knowledge.

To ensure local government involvement, the Authority would have an advisory group comprising of a person nominated by each of the local councils which border the Tamar and Esk Rivers. This will involve:

  • Dorset,
  • George Town,
  • Launceston City,
  • Northern Midlands,
  • Meander Valley,
  • West Tamar councils.

Natural Resource Management (NRM) NRM North would also be involved as a member of the advisory group, given their ongoing work on catchment management.

The appalling silt built up in the River Tamar is testament to a lack of action by the State Government and an embarrassment to all Tasmanians. Worse, it is a serious threat to many residents of Launceston in the event of a major flood.

It needs not only a significant capital injection, but also the will to act. A Hodgman Liberal Government will provide both. The Legislative Council Select Committee into the Management of the Tamar Estuary and Esk Rivers found:

“The imprecision and inadequacies of the current management structure have contributed to the parlous state of the Tamar Estuary and Esk River systems, especially the significant and environmentally damaging siltation problem and the defectiveness of flood mitigation infrastructure in Launceston.”

Rapid action must be taken to address urgent environmental and waterway management challenges.

We now have a number of valuable studies that have been done on the Tamar Estuary, and the catchment area. The time has come for action.

We will require the Authority to produce a strategic catchment management plan the outcomes of which have been agreed and negotiated with the advisory group of councils and NRM and other stakeholders, within eighteen months of it being established. We expect that the work of the Tamar Estuary & Esk Rivers program (TEER) will be used as the basis for the development of this plan.

The Authority will be given responsibility for the environment management and health of all waterways within these catchments, and works in cooperation with the Launceston Flood Authority. It will also be given the power to seek funding in the future from relevant local, State and federal government programs. Importantly, the new Authority will operate on the fundamental principle of stakeholder and community involvement and consultation with river users and other interested parties, consistent with catchment management models in Victoria and South-East Queensland.

This policy offers real change to improve the management of the Tamar for today and the longer term. The ongoing, serious issue of silt in the Tamar River has been neglected over the past 11 years and it remains a serious problem.

Unlike Labor, the State Liberals are committed to fixing this and other associated problems for the Tamar and Esk Rivers and, if elected, a Hodgman Liberal Government will establish a single statutory Authority as a starting point to achieving this goal.

We recognise that the accumulation of silt in the Tamar River is occurring at an unacceptable level which is inhibiting recreation, tourism and other opportunities that the Tamar River represents to the wider region. The silt problem will, if not addressed, also affect local jobs.

Sadly, the upper reaches of the Tamar River, the gateway to Launceston, is barely navigable at times. There is also the potential that such high levels of silt may contribute to a higher risk of flooding.

This policy meets a significant environmental challenge and offers real change in the long-term management of the Tamar.

This announcement by the Tasmanian Opposition Leader Will Hodgman stands in stark contrast to the performance of the New South Wales Labor Government.

The NSW Government has consistently ignored the silt buildup in Sydney’s Parramatta River.

Parramatta River is one of Sydney’s major waterways and the deliberate refusal to dredge the river has now led to the cancellation of ferry services for Parramatta. This picturesque journey has now been replaced by a bus on one of Sydney’s many congested roads.

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