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Environment and Climate Change – Climate Action Plan

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Wednesday, 8 June 2022

Tags: Climate Change

Dr WOODRUFF - Minister, the New Zealand government has just released plans to try to prepare its country for the catastrophic effects of the climate crisis. They're focusing on natural disasters, sea level rise, floods, massive storms and wildfires. They've announced sweeping reforms to institutions, local councils and their laws to try to stop people building in hazardous areas to preserve cultural treasures, to improve disaster responses and to protect the financial system from shocks and future disasters. This is the sort of strong forward-thinking adaptation planning that we need. In Tasmania our climate change action plan expired at the end of last year and a new plan hasn't been released. The focus of your Government instead has been on sectoral plans such as the renewable energy action plan, the renewable hydrogen plan, the Agrivision 2050 white paper, all very worthy causes. However, when will you be releasing our climate action plan for Tasmania and will it include the sorts of strong actions that New Zealand is taking?

Mr JAENSCH - Thank you for your question. To start off with, activity clearly hasn't stopped since the first action plan was concluded. There's a range of initiatives that I've mentioned here and there are many others as well that have continued to be developed and to be invested in to the order of tens of millions of dollars across government. I'm very proud of the momentum we're building in this area, particularly the focus on emissions. In parallel, there is work underway and I listened to a very similar question and answer that you asked of the Minister for Planning yesterday evening on this area -

Dr WOODRUFF - Yes, your old stomping ground.

Mr JAENSCH - Yes. The Tasmanian Planning Scheme and in particular the Tasmanian planning policies and the regional land-use strategies work, which is underway, from its commencement identified that climate change and readiness for climate change and adaptation to the unavoidable likely impacts of climate change will be front and centre in that process. Together with that, as part of our bill there is a requirement for the Government to undertake statewide climate risk assessments at least every five years.

Those updated risk assessments will go very directly to the types of hazards and circumstances we are going to need to plan to live with and to avoid in the future. They will inform those next iterations of those Regional Land Use Strategies, TPPs and other matters.

Dr WOODRUFF - The timing of the plan?

Mr JAENSCH - I would like there to be an action plan that captures the current work underway and the work we are doing to do the risk assessment, develop the ERPs (Estimated Resident Population) et cetera, as soon as possible, within six months or so of the bill going through. Then, for the products of that work to inform a more substantive, longer term action plan.

Our bill says at least every five years. That does not stop us from having a shorter-term action plan to start off with, which also includes the work plan for that other range of activity. We can still address a range of real matters while we are doing that as well.

Dr WOODRUFF - I think your comments would be deeply distressing to young people who are really concerned that your Government is taking urgent action to address -

Mr JAENSCH - Absolutely. We are.

Dr WOODRUFF - Everything you have said does not suggest that there is any level of urgency. You are already well overdue for that legislation to be in parliament. You have no date for when it is coming. It was expected last year. You are talking about creating a plan, some six months or no specific time frame. No commitment to an actual deadline after the legislation comes, whenever that would be. And you have made no commitment to an actual action plan.

There is a difference between doing a risk assessment, which is identifying what the risks are. Let me tell you, everyone around the world knows what the risks are. New Zealand is working on this.

So, will you be directing other departments to take the individual department-level adaptation planning that they must take urgently? For example, in Planning, on where houses should or should not be built and what we are going to do when houses are removed, like they were in northern New South Wales, because of flooding.

What are you going to do about whether councils should be allowed to rebuild on that site? Or are you just going to leave councils to make that decision?

CHAIR - Dr Woodruff, perhaps, if the minister is given an opportunity to answer your question.

Mr JAENSCH - To the young people out there who are alert and informed and concerned about not only the changes going on in the world they are inheriting, but also have an interest in how well their public institutions and their representatives like us are responding, I can show them proudly the investment that is underway right now in converting our vehicle fleet, replacing our fossil fuel boilers.

Dr WOODRUFF - Yes, I know.

Mr JAENSCH - And I know you say that does not matter.

Dr WOODRUFF - But there is no legislation and there is no implementation plan. There is nothing happening, proactively, other than stuff to deal with electric vehicles. Great.

CHAIR - Dr Woodruff, if you are not interested in the answer to your question, I will give the call to Mr Wood. The minister has the call.

Mr JAENSCH - The CEO is pointing out that there have been rounds of consultation already undertaken on our new action plan. The new legislation will set new targets and require other things. It is important that the action plan we develop next reflects the update to our legislation. In the meantime -

Dr WOODRUFF - Can you tell us when the legislation will be before us and when the plan will happen?

Mr JAENSCH - I expect the legislation will be before us in August.

Dr WOODRUFF - Thank you. And when will there be an implementation plan and an action plan, which is overdue.

Mr JAENSCH - I would say, we would have an updated action plan within six months of the legislation going through -

Dr WOODRUFF - From now, or September, October, November, December, January, February.

Mr JAENSCH - just because I do not want to -

CHAIR - Dr Woodruff, your interjections are extremely unhelpful. One more and I will go to Mr Wood.

Mr JAENSCH - I do not want to take the parliament for granted. I expect there will be robust debate on elements of that bill and that will influence what is built into our plan.

What I can tell those Tasmanians who are interested and listening is that preparation for climate change and building climate change as a key consideration into our long-term land use planning and statutory planning system is already underway; we are doing it now. You heard that from the minister last night.

Our Government is leading the way in terms of our EV fleet, in terms of the emissions that we control. This is a very important distinction and a hallmark of our approach as a government to dealing with climate change. We are setting ourselves an emissions target which is going to be the most ambitious in Australia and one of the most ambitious the world. We already have an enviable status. Reducing emissions has to be an absolute key focus of what we do. The list of initiatives I read into the record is evidence to anyone looking of how seriously we are taking that commitment to track those emissions down to their source, to work with the owners of those emissions, and reduce them so that we can remain net zero or below up to and beyond 2030.