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Tyenna River

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Wednesday, 2 December 2020

Tags: Native Forest Logging, Water Quality

Ms O'CONNOR (Clark - Leader of the Greens) - Madam Deputy Speaker, a couple of weeks ago I received a really poignant email from Mr Peter Tywell, who lives up the valley. I am going to read it to the House now. I am really pleased that the Minister for Resources, and in fact the minister for Water, is in the Chamber tonight. I am sure that Mr Tywell is glad that you are here too, Mr Barnett.

Dear Ms O'Connor,

I am an elderly man who likes to fly-fish. Yesterday I was fishing the Tyenna River, which I know very well. The Tyenna is regarded by most fly-fishing people as being the premier stream in southern Tasmania, or at least it was.

Over recent years I have noticed a steady decline in the health of the river. Some of this can be attributed to clear-felling of plantation timber by Norske Skog, but I don't believe that is the whole story. I am observing increasing levels of turbidity and sullying, even in levels of relatively low flow. There are also disturbing growths of algae and slime on the substrate.

My records indicate a decline in the trout population, as manifested in my catch rates. I am quite capable with a fly rod. Remember that trout can only inhabit clean, cool and well-oxygenated water. In that they are the canaries of the waterways. So far this year I have not seen one platypus, which is also really disturbing.

Yesterday when I rejoined the highway on the section between Newbury and Westerway, I got stuck behind an articulated log truck. This is a section of road where double lines predominate. I had no choice but to sit back, dodge the bits and pieces coming off the truck, and be content to drive at just over and under 60 kilometres an hour. I observed that even at such low speed, the driver had trouble holding his line on the road. On many occasions he had to veer out across the double lines. In no time at all I had a gaggle of vehicles behind me, including a police car. Surely the officer driving the car would have seen the dangers and illegalities presented by the articulated log truck. Hopefully he reported back to his seniors.

The highway, which goes from New Norfolk to Lakes Pedder and Gordon, is an extremely popular tourist route, what with bush walking and skiing at Mt Field, mountain bike riding at Maydena and access to the wilderness beyond Strathgordon. Do tourists really want to see log trucks loaded up with massive old growth forest logs? Do they want to get stuck behind these behemoths? I very much doubt it. Unfortunately our Government entertains the misbegotten belief that Tasmania can be all things to all people. It can't. What Tasmania can do is preserve its wild jewels in an era where the whole world is facing serious environmental and existential issues. This nonsense must stop.

Yours faithfully, Peter Tywald

There is not much more I can say to add Mr Tywald's poignant and informed observations of what is happening to Tasmania and the Tyenna River, but I think what this senior Tasmanian is telling us is that we are not getting the balance right. Mr Tywald is correct, Tasmania cannot be all things to all people and we need to understand what makes this place unique and precious and beautiful in the world. We need to look after it, not just for the current generations of Tasmanians but for those who come after us.

I encourage Mr Barnett to have a rethink about his whole approach to logging because we are hearing reports from all points of the compass in Tasmania that log truck activity is increasing and the size of the logs on the back of those trucks is also increasing. We will always argue that that is a crime against nature and future generations but we have an opportunity in this parliament in this generation now to do better and we must.