Dr WOODRUFF question to PREMIER as ACTING MINISTER for the ENVIRONMENT, Mr HODGMAN
Enterococci readings in the River Derwent must be less than 140 per 100ml to be considered safe for human health. In January 2019 the Derwent Estuary Program's tests of the most popular swimming locations from New Norfolk down to Blackmans Bay found seven of 18 spots had unsafe levels. In March, 10 of the 18 sites failed to pass the test and Kingston Beach recorded an astronomical 110 times the safe limit, which was the highest the Derwent Estuary Program had ever seen. Concerned residents heard at a public information session that some 67 per cent of faecal contamination source remains unknown, even after DNA questioning.
The Kingborough Council has requested assistance repeatedly from you and the EPA to investigate the source of contamination but there has been no action so far. Your Government seems happy to see a river become so contaminated it is unsafe to swim in, with southern beaches closed for the last two summers. Will you instruct the EPA to investigate the contamination at Kingston and Blackmans Bay beaches and accept that the water quality of the Derwent is ultimately your Government's responsibility?
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for the question. Of course we take very seriously issues such as this and seek to understand the causes and the impacts of circumstances that arise and to identify the source, but also to ensure that we have an ability to put in place things to prevent it occurring in future. However we certainly are not of a mind to interfere with the operations of the EPA, which the member might be suggesting we do, because we respect and value its important and independent functions. We will ensure that it is fully equipped and as a government we will certainly proactively do all we can to ensure that matters such as this are properly attended to.
With respect to the matters specifically and as to what the minister has done herself, I can take that part on notice but I know we have been very proactive in our operations. I will tell you that government representatives including the director of the EPA recently met with the mayors of Clarence, Hobart and Kingborough and the CEO of the Derwent Estuary Program and there were very positive discussions undertaken and an action plan formed, including improving post-testing protocols to better understand the sources of pollution, so to suggest that nothing is being done is completely wrong. We take these matters seriously and we are, as I have just said, taking action.