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Port Sorell Subdivision Proposal


Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Thursday, 16 June 2022

Tags: Planning

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Mr Speaker, I want to make some comments about a subdivision I understand is in process within the Latrobe Council, which is to develop a site on 353 Port Sorell main road, and to create visitor accommodation which houses up to 600 people adjacent to that road. 

To put it mildly, there has been quite substantial community concern about putting a essentially a whole new township on this particular site.  The rationale for the development is to provide accommodation for seasonal workers who are coming from overseas to pick fruit.  However, until now Camp Banksia at Port Sorell has met that need, and it is an established facility with access to reticulated water and sewerage.  It is also in Port Sorell where workers can mix with local people and reduce the isolation of workers and build community engagement. 

As the member for Franklin, I can speak with a great deal of concern about isolating our seasonal workers in basically a bunker in isolated parts of regional communities without access to services, having no easy access to shops and community life.  It puts them in a very dangerous situation.  It promotes the possibility of some form of slave labour.  There have been incidences around Australia, and in Tasmania there have definitely been incidences of terrible abuse of workers.  It is very concerning when people are not located near community services, and when there is an alternative like the accommodation at Camp Banksia.  Why is there a need to subdivide rural land when these workers are only going to be here for a short period of the year?  As well as not having existing water and sewerage services, or community services and support, there are also no pathways for cycling or walking safely.  Mill Road, which is right next to the airport, is a rural industrial area.  There are not any shops or recreation facilities for the 600 people to look after themselves, and at the moment there are no buses to access, there is no service.  It is 10 kilometres each way to walk to Woolworths.

Ms O'Connor - That is terrible.

Dr WOODRUFF - That is 20 kilometre round trip, that is 5 hours of walking at a fast speed just to get to Woolworths.  It is really disgusting that this is on the table.  It is terrible for community cohesion.  They only need it for supposedly three months of the year, but they are not using the existing facilities at Camp Banksia so locals are smelling a rat.  Obviously it is very convenient for the landowner to propose a subdivision for 600 sites, which may or not be used in perpetuity for this purpose, then lo and behold, afterwards it is available for that landowner to make merry money. 

It is a terrible precedent to subdivide rural resource land and change it to visitor accommodation which is what is being proposed here.  The seasonal worker scheme could change at any time and it is essentially a temporary purpose.  It is also on a wetland.  The water table is only 40 centimetres below the surface and the soil will be waterlogged for a considerable part of the year and will flood.  Recently it was always wet in winter. It had a lagoon, it is breeding habitat for swans and green and gold frogs.  In February this year there was extreme rainfall that the locals in that area knew about because it exceeded the one in 100 year record in places.  The council has admitted that its capacity with its stormwater system cannot keep up.  This is no stormwater system there.  It is clear that with climate change these events will become frequent.  The idea of having 600 people in a flood zone without an ability to get out is really quite deeply concerning.

It really goes to show how terrible our planning scheme is, that the council alone could make a decision about something like this.  We have to have what the Planning Commission recommended when the Liberals pushed through the planning scheme in 2016.  Peter Gutwein, at the time the planning minister, ignored the advice of the Planning Commission, ignored the direct recommendation to have overlays that would prevent these sorts of things happening when you have a properly designed planning scheme with planning policies that overlay the whole state.

There is no proper biodiversity code.  In 2016, the Liberals in government made sure that did not happen.  They did not adopt that recommendation for the independent planning body. 

We do not have a climate change planning policy.  We do not have a settlement to have transport and infrastructure planning policies.  We do not have a biodiversity planning policy. 

How on earth can we be planning for the future events that are happening without those things in place?

A cynical observer might wonder if that is the Government's intention - do not have any comprehensive, thoughtful, careful integrated planning that takes account of all these things that make sure that people do not get stuck in Australia, in Tasmania, a very long way from their homes, unable to access a chemist, unable to get to a doctor, unable to buy food or converse with other people, stuck outside a town in a facility and beholden to the whims of the landowner.

We are very concerned.  The community is not going to stop.  We need to hear from TasPorts and TasWater, a whole range of other bodies, obviously the ETA.  We will keep following it.

Time expired.