You are here

Cam River bridge

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Tuesday, 25 October 2022

Tags: Infrastructure

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Mr Speaker, the Cam River bridge delays are obviously difficult for the local residents and everyone involved, as well as for people travelling east and west along the highway.

The stories in the newspaper are really hard, as are all the stories I am reading of everyone who has had their lives turned upside down or their houses destroyed or their local communities substantially damaged and the enormous clean-up ahead of many people. I have to say as somebody living in the south of Tasmania, it feels very odd to be living in a place where we are hearing these serious stories of enormous community and personal disruption but we are not having the same experiences here. It shows how as a state we are all affected by what is happening. Regardless of whether it is actually occurring to us, we are all affected.

The question for me is what to do. The whole situation about the floods and the response to them shows that Tasmania has a serious problem with the Liberals who, since they have been in office, have failed to grapple with the reality of climate heating and come up with future planning for infrastructure and emergency services support for communities, for rebuilding and essentially all of the adaptation we need to do now that we are living in a time of accelerating climate heating.

We will continue to see. Unfortunately, this is not an aberration. It is an aberration in the long-term climate record but it will not be an aberration in the future. It is just a small taste of the sorts of climate patterns we can expect. They will change, but we can expect to have many more of these extreme events. I note that this year nearly 2.4 metres of rain has fallen in metropolitan Sydney. That, by any measure, is extraordinary.

We will have more property loss, threat to human life and dramatic social upheaval. We have already seen the impacts for economies and businesses, the breaks in supply chains of many goods, even essential goods, and the mental health impacts on people at the time of what we have come to understand now, two years post an extreme event, is a natural disaster when communities and individuals need the most support.

The Cam Bridge is one of many bridges in Tasmania, one of many roads, one of many coastlines that are being affected by sea level rise and coastal inundation by the outflowing of rivers damaging the banks. That is having an impact on roads and will increasingly do so, as well as properties and buildings of all sorts.

What we have here is a decision about what to do with one bridge. I have concerns about the Labor Party's response, which is to build another bridge. Let us first have a conversation statewide about what we should do about roads and bridges, what we should do about climate change and how we should prepare. The fact is that a vast amount of the Huon Valley in the Franklin electorate and on the eastern shore has serious coastal erosion issues that are happening, eating away into roads, undermining bridges and potentially impacting on the capacity of communities to be connected by roads after an extreme event in the future.

How should we respond? We must have planning for the future. The Liberals, since they have been in government, have not done this. They have not done the comprehensive work with local government that is needed to prepare a plan for local government to have a coordinated response so there is an overarching statewide view about how we spend precious money on rebuilding and supporting communities, where we continue to rebuild, whether we should have resettlement programs, whether there should be a second bridge over the Cam River, or whether there are roads that should be permanently redirected. We should start that now. We can see from the climate modelling what is going to come and that is why we need a response from the Government to this.

I want to briefly mention an email Cassy O'Connor received from a beautiful person who lives in Nunamara on Mount Barrow Road. He wrote yesterday about his great concern about the TasALERT website and how woefully out of date it is, and I have personally experienced this. I was trying to find for a friend who was travelling back to the ferry over the weekend what the road situation was, which roads were safe and which roads were open. What I found was inadequate or out-of-date information. The resident wrote:

Nowhere can I find how to let them, TasALERT, know that roads are closed or open or that flooding is happening or subsided.

This week the Mount Barrow Road where he lives was blocked by a very large landslip. The council eventually came and cleared it out but it was because of a local landowner that it got cleared. The problem is residents did not know what was happening; the information was not on the TasALERT website. It showed the bridge at Nunamara was flooded and not useable but that was not the case. It still shows the bridge is closed, which it is not. It showed the road from the Bass Highway along the Meander Valley Road to Hadspen was closed, but it was not. We have some real problems with TasALERT and the resourcing that the Government is not providing to them. There was no information on the Parks website about whether Cradle Mountain was open or the roads were open. We have to get these basics right.