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Gutwein Must Rule Out Future Support for Lauderdale Urban Expansion Plan

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Tags: Planning, Local Government

Ms WOODRUFF (Franklin) - I rise tonight to report on a decision by the Clarence City Council it made at its meeting last night on a proposal to expand the Lauderdale urban area to a new zone from rural, residential to close residential area. I am pleased to say the Clarence Council rejected that proposal, which had been to the Planning Commission some years past and was roundly rejected. It was a highly risky proposal. The mayor, Doug Chipman, was talking about it and was interviewed on ABC Radio this morning. He commented that the council decided the proposal did not stack up and had too many risks associated with it.

Ms O'Connor - Has he told Mr Gutwein about that?

Ms WOODRUFF - I wonder whether there has been formal correspondence with Mr Gutwein yet because the hand of the Government has been pushing this project from the start. That is one of the big concerns for the future because Mayor Chipman did not close the door on this project coming before council for yet another time. This would be a disaster for Tasmania. It would be an utter waste of time for the ratepayers of Lauderdale and the Clarence Council to have to mount a case against it yet again. It would be a disaster for the state if it were ever approved because the climate change risks are very great, and it indicates there is a rump in the Tasmanian Liberal Party which has some extreme climate change deniers.

One of the backers of the project, Senator Abetz, wrote to the mayor in 2013 and said that landholders have been advised they would need to lift the level of their land and that some might have to do this at great expense, 'to fill the requirements of council'.

No, this is about fulfilling the requirements of reality. This area is already inundated with saltwater. It is already subject to tidal incursion. Numerous reports have been done by the state government, or funded by the state government. Good work has been done by members of the Clarence community. A number of reports have been compiled - Coastal Hazards in Tasmania, the Tasmanian Coastal Adaptation Pathways Project and the Department of Premier and Cabinet's own Mitigating Natural Hazards through Land Use Planning are all major, scientific and community observation documents that detail, without a shadow of a doubt, that this area is increasingly going under water.

The issue for the state is that we have a government that is prepared to show some direction on what is happening to our coastal fringes as a result of climate change. We have had a minister, Mr Gutwein, who wrote to the Clarence City Council last year saying that this was a priority project. This state government has already wasted $40 000 of taxpayers' money, putting it behind a feasibility study prepared for the council by an engineering firm to investigate yet again whether this was a dog of a project. Clarence ratepayers have paid over $100 000 towards that project. There has been $150 000 wasted on defending the reality of climate change, and the fact projects like this cannot be done without the most massive expense and to the risk of other surrounding landowners.

That was one of the many risks the Clarence Council sensibly voted down in this proposal last night. Mr Figg, the proponent, was at the meeting and so were the police because councillors have been threatened in the process of defending their residents.

Councillors have been approached; they have been stalked; and they have been harassed by people determined to put their own private interests ahead of reality and the interests of the community. Fortunately the council was sensible enough to see the manifest risks of this project, but we do not want it to be raised for a third time. The state Government has to come out and Mr Gutwein has to come out now and make a commitment that will not waste another cent of taxpayers' dollars or any more of our time in avoiding adapting to climate change. We cannot keep putting up these hare-brained projects.

We cannot expect the rest of the Tasmanian community to pay for every single individual's house site if its property price goes down because the sea level is rising. We have to have a plan because Mr Figg is not the only person in Tasmania in this situation. Everybody in the Franklin electorate living on the edge of the water is in the same situation. We need a government to embrace the reality of climate change, to wake up and come up with a plan. Mr Figg is a dime a dozen here. Actually that may not be true. There is only one Mr Figg, but there are many people who are concerned about how we will have roads that function, be able to transport ourselves, be able to get to the shops and take our kids to school. It is a really serious issue. We have to start planning not just for the future but also for the present because it is happening now. This change is happening.

I congratulate the residents of Lauderdale who yet again stood up to this mad idea and the threatening behaviour of one of the proponents. I hope that they do not have to do it again. Mr Figg made a point on ABC Radio this morning, pretending that the Greens had gone to retirement villages, advocating for this.

Time expired.