Benefits of Irrigation

The Tasmanian Greens issued an alternative State Budget on 1 September 2014 which included support for ongoing government funding for irrigation projects, although at a slightly lower level than that proposed by the government. After the release of the Greens’ alternative budget, Kim Booth claimed that the Meander Dam had failed to produce one extra potato. This comment attracted much criticism from the agricultural community and the state government, but rightly focused attention on whether there are desirable economic and social benefits – to outweigh the environmental costs – from irrigation projects, which are substantially funded by taxpayers.

Director's Report November 2014

Fracking moratorium

During the state election the Liberal Party promised a 12-month moratorium on fracking across Tasmania. In the last newsletter we told you that the TCT had written to the new Liberal government requesting details about when the moratorium would commence and what it intended to do in terms of studies and policy reviews during the moratorium. On 26 August 2014 we received a letter from Minister for Resources Paul Harriss informing us that the moratorium had commenced four months earlier. Not only had nothing occurred during the four months but the government had notified no one about it until it wrote to the TCT.

TasWater’s $1 billion investment in sewerage

Before complaining about our rising TasWater bills, it’s worth considering the work that is being done to improve Tasmania’s water quality. TasWater is undertaking a massive program of works, started by its predecessors, to upgrade drinking water and sewerage treatment infrastructure across the state. This promises to have very significant benefits for its customers and the natural environment

Species harvesting in 1.1 million hectares of reserves

The Forestry (Rebuilding the Forest Industry) Act 2014 (FRFI Act), passed the Tasmanian Parliament on 2 September 2014 and commenced on 22 October. It includes provisions which amend the statutory management objectives and purposes for all conservation areas and regional reserves (clauses 27 and 31) to specifically permit harvesting of special species timbers.

Salmon Farming November 2014

Salmon farming production has increased by around 171% over the past decade in Tasmania and salmon companies have stated that they want to double production by 2030. Whilst the industry provides much-needed regional jobs, anecdotal and scientific reports suggest that impacts are increasing, monitoring is inadequate and the expansion of the industry needs to slow down and be done in a more strategically planned and transparent way.

Restore Skyline Tier

In the late 1960s to early 1970s the Reece Government in Tasmania funded the landscape-scale conversion of native forest to radiata pine plantation in the Fingal Valley/Mathinna and Scamander (Skyline Tier) areas. This was done as much to create jobs for unemployed miners in the region as for any guaranteed commercial outcome. In the early 2000s clearfelling of mature pines on the visually prominent and steep eastern slopes of Skyline Tier triggered community interest and concern.

A roadblock for environmental one-stop shop

The Greens have secured a deal with the Palmer United Party (PUP) and Labor that effectively kills the federal government’s plan to hand its environmental approval powers to the states under its ‘one-stop shop’ policy. The deal builds on PUP’s refusal a month ago to allow federal approval of mines and coal seam gas projects impacting on a water resource — known as the ‘water trigger’ — to be handed to the states.

Planning Reform November 2014

The state government recently released a discussion paper ‘Reforming Tasmania’s Planning System: a position paper on the Land Use Planning and Approvals Amendments Bill 2014’ to selected stakeholders requesting their comments. The Planning Position Paper includes numerous proposals – I estimate more than half – which were not mentioned in the Liberals’ election policy on planning. Other included proposals are justified as being delivery of  a ‘Fairer, Faster, Cheaper and Simpler Planning System’ but the rationale is less than convincing.

Mobile Muster

MobileMuster is the Australian mobile phone industry’s official product stewardship program. It is a free mobile phone recycling program that accepts all brands and types of mobile phones, plus their batteries, chargers and accessories. Basically, it’s the industry’s way of ensuring mobile phone products don’t end up in landfill – but instead are recycled in a safe, secure and ethical way.

Director’s report July 2014

It is unsurprising that the new state and federal conservative governments would introduce policies and legislation that are anti protection of the environment. Not only did they flag specific anti-environment policies during state and national elections, but the Liberal Party seems to me to be determined to define itself principally by being less green that the Labor Party.

Pets and Pests – biosecurity in Australia

Practitioners from a range of disciplines and countries spoke about emerging threats and new technologies being developed and applied in the field of vertebrate pest management. Pest species and their associated management challenges discussed at the conference ranged from old foes including wild dogs, feral horses, feral cats, camels, goats, foxes, Indian mynas, starlings, pigs, deer, rabbits, carp, rats, wallabies and possums to new arrivals such as smooth newts in Victoria and black-spined toads.