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TasRail – Threatened Species

Cassy O'Connor MP

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Wednesday, 1 December 2021

Tags: TasRail

Ms O'CONNOR - Minister, I want to follow up on a conversation we had at TasRail hearings a couple of years ago about weed management, the vegetation management plan and what measures TasRail is taking to make sure that contractors who spray are given really clear guidance about not impacting on threatened vegetation communities and other sensitive ecological sites.

Mr FERGUSON - Thank you for your question. I will ask Mr Dietrich to provide you that information.

Mr DIETRICH - Thank you Ms O'Connor, and I would like to acknowledge that you raised it last time, because it has certainly brought us into a new zone around how we manage the network and the vegetation, the land management.

It was not that our practices were not up to speed, but we certainly have taken a much higher level of approach to our vegetation management. It is quite complex and quite detailed at the moment, particularly with the climate and the wet season we are having. With our sensitive area listing, I am pleased to advise you that I have a list here in front of me. There are over 2000 lines that we have identified and documented around our sensitive area listing.

Ms O'CONNOR - Good on you.

Mr DIETRICH - Here are the works instructions that go to contractors all the time. Before a contractor undertakes any activity on the network around vegetation management, they are provided all the clear points, and the GPS points, around where there are protected species, where there are organic farms or native wildlife that needs to be protected, and how we manage either spraying or slashing at the same time.

It has also identified some areas where we have some problems with weeds. We are part of the Weeds Action Fund, and we are very much engaged with that area of the community to help manage weed control across Tasmania, and where it impacts our network.

We have taken this to a really new level. I am very proud to say where we have got to with our sensitive area listing. We are now taking that into a technological system, that will then be provided where our contractors will have laptops, and they will know exactly the GPS coordinates where they are spraying, where they are not allowed to spray, where we have protected species, where we have not, et cetera. It has brought us to a whole new level of vegetation management

I am pleased to say we now have two very qualified land management vegetation specialists, with 40 years of experience between them, engaged in the business, along with our appointed specialised environmental manager, who also informs these listings and our activities.

Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you, Mr Dietrich, that is fantastic news. Thank you so much. Are you able to share with the committee what range of chemicals and herbicides are used?

Mr DIETRICH - Roundup, Ultra MAX.

TasRail – Track Quality

Ms O'CONNOR - Minister, through you, and this might be a question for Mr Dietrich. This financial year there was a decline in the proportion of track rated as good on the track quality index. This is particularly pronounced in the Derwent Valley, which declined from 61.2 per cent to 45.1 per cent. This seems a fairly substantial degradation in a single year. Can you provide any details of the causes of this decline in quality of track?

Mr DIETRICH - Thank you for the question, Ms O'Connor. The figure of 75.9 to 73.5 is a slight deterioration, particularly in the Derwent Valley. That's related to the tamper. So, the Derwent Valley is still at that level of condition. It's scheduled to be tamped in early 2022, which will then bring those statistics back up and the overall statistics back in line with the trend that we expect.