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TasPorts - Environment and Climate

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Thursday, 1 December 2022

Tags: TasPorts, Environment, Climate Change

Ms O'CONNOR - Minister, I note that TasPorts is seeking EcoPorts certification for the four primary ports, which is good to see. What sort of adjustments does TasPorts need to make to meet the certification requirements?

Mr FERGUSON - Thanks, Ms O'Connor, for that very good question. I will ask our team from TasPorts to respond. We are looking wherever we can for opportunities not just to grow and enhance the state's economy but also for the people of Tasmania with their goods being imported and exported.

Mr DONALD - Thank you, minister, and thank you for the question, Ms O'Connor. It is really important, as all our organisations continue to change and evolve in a rapidly changing global environment, that we are prudent and responsible moving forward. That requires us largely to understand our footprint from a carbonisation or decarbonisation perspective.

In order for us to demonstrate certification from an EcoPorts perspective, we need to understand how we perform today. We are currently embarking on a review. We have some information, but it is not complete, on how we are performing today against a number of targets. We will then plan to understand our scope 1, scope 2 and scope 3 footprint and opportunities for ongoing change and reporting. We plan to be very transparent in our reporting, both publicly in our annual report and equally on our website, on our performance moving forward.

It is a challenging topic. We all, particularly from a TasPorts perspective, can have a big influence and impact moving forward. All Australians and Tasmanians need to be prudent equally. The world is changing.

Ms O'CONNOR - Yes, not fast enough, but thank you.

Mr DONALD - If I may, we plan to change as quickly as we can, but it's not going to be easy.

Ms O'CONNOR - That is where I am going next. Are some ports closer than others? What kind of time frames are we looking at? Is the decision to seek EcoPorts certification - and I get this from your answer - driven by what customers are wanting? Where did this come from?

Mr DONALD - It largely is. We are a member of Ports Australia and that gives us complete access to what other ports around the country are doing. EcoPorts certification is a recognised model which enables us to benchmark our performance in a meaningful way for us. In many ways benchmarks are interesting because they enable a comparison to another port or another industry or another sector. What the EcoPorts certification enables us to do is understand our performance in a meaningful way so that we can focus on improving our performance.

Sometimes it is unhelpful to compare a port organisation such as ours to one of the large container ports on the eastern seaboard because the economies of scale are very different, the types of services and infrastructure we have are very different, very unique, so we need to make sure that our initiatives and actions are targeted on our unique organisation.

Mr DAVENEY - Ms O'Connor, Mr Donald is deputy chairman of Ports Australia and would be the most senior Tasmanian in that organisation for a very long time. He is reflecting their decision making and bringing ports together on issues like this.

Ms O'CONNOR - I understand TasPorts has acquired new oil spill emergency response equipment. Did this involve routine equipment replacement, or were there more notable or significant upgrades of the technology used at the ports for the oil spill emergency response unit or process?

Mr DONALD - It is largely replacement of existing infrastructure. However, as you would expect, there are improvements on that infrastructure and equipment each time it is periodically replaced and replenished. Of particular note, our most recent involvement with the Goliath incident in the Mersey River in Devonport provided us with an opportunity to work with the EPA in utilising their oil-spill response trailer and equipment. That in particular has been a huge benefit to our organisation. From what we understand, and from feedback from AMSA anecdotally, was that TasPorts has the most highly trained group of people in the country with respect to oil spill response.

Mr BRADFORD - The performance at Devonport after that collision was excellent. What could have happened environmentally when those two tugs were lifted was a credit to TasPorts' workforce in totally managing the diesel coming out of the vessels. It was outstanding. Our apologies to our customers who were inconvenienced by that incident for five or six months until those wrecks were removed. It required great patience.

Mr DONALD - If I may, it would be remiss of me not to recognise my team in that regard.

Ms O'CONNOR - Recognise?

Mr DONALD - My team, the TasPorts team, with the support of the EPA and AMSA in particular. They were incredible - for such a long period, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for largely six and a half months - in making sure that we identified and mopped up every drop of oil and diesel possible. Some 70 000 litres of diesel and oil in submerged wrecks on the bottom of a tidal river, where there were incidences of high-intensity rainfall and the current increases, with wrecks that are not completely stable structurally. Quite a feat.