TIERNEY (Western Victoria) — My question is to the Minister for Planning.
Can the minister advise the house on how the Brumby Labor government is at the
forefront of managing coastal climate change, especially in light of his recent
decision to protect the coast at Port Fairy from inappropriate development?
J. M. MADDEN (Minister for Planning) — I welcome Ms Tierney’s interest in
these matters, and I thank her for the execution of the question too, given that
she had to race here within a very critical time frame.
I have announced publicly a number of issues in relation to
low-lying coastal areas, especially managing coastal and climate change
interactions and the effects they have more broadly on these communities.
With my colleague Gavin Jennings, I announced recently the
refusal of a permit for East Beach at Port Fairy, but along with that I
announced a $1 million fund to help Victorian coastal communities better prepare
for the risk of rising sea levels.
What is worth considering here is that it is not just the issue
about potential rising sea levels which needs to be considered.
Hon. J. M. MADDEN — I am providing this information to address
some of the ignorance that is being displayed in this chamber as we speak.
What is important is that it is not just the rising sea level
that might be a major consideration, it is also the interaction of rising sea
levels and other issues such as inundation with tides, tidal changes and the
make-up of the land in some of these locations.
In this instance in Port Fairy a permit had been sought for a
coastal subdivision in a low-lying coastal area. What is important is not just
the fact that it is low lying, but the fact that it is located in and around
sand dunes. If that erosion should take place as well as the sea level rising,
combined with the effects of the Moyne River, we could see some very significant
inundation. It is not just one issue or the other, it is the combination of
As part of that we have contributed $1 million for local
assessments to enable local communities and local councils to study the way
winds and waves will move sand and vegetation along our beaches. It is
the combination of those factors.
I have inspected a number of sites along the coast which fall
into these categories. You might have some low-lying land that you would not
normally appreciate was low lying, but once you get up into the dunes, which
might be the point in the land that divides it from the beachfront —
particularly down in some of those Gippsland areas — you appreciate that if
some of those dunes were to wash away in a very significant storm, and given a
bit of a sea level rise and a bit of inundation, you would end up with the ocean
almost moving into that land not just hundreds of metres but potentially a
kilometre or two.
The enormous inundation that would occur would have a very
significant effect not only on local biodiversity and on the landform but on a
whole lot of other very significant issues going forward that would complicate
matters for urban settlement in some of these areas.
It is important therefore that we take a very proactive
approach. It is not just one singular issue of sea level rise; it is the
combination of those factors. The money we have provided to these local
communities to investigate the significance of those local conditions in
relation to the expected sea level rises will certainly assist them to work
through those issues.
The permit sought in relation to Port Fairy was for a 22-lot
residential subdivision on the sand dunes at East Beach. The decisions is in
line with the independent expert advice from a joint planning panel and advisory
committee after an investigation and consideration of the coastal planning
processes. I am pleased that this matter has been resolved, but of course we
have to work out the rezoning that will occur on that land. We will work with
the Moyne Shire Council to plan for the future and address the long-term impacts
of climate change on this part of the land in Port Fairy.
The knowledge, the tools and the new layers of data that will
come from this funding and the research can give coastal communities, local
government and decision-makers and relevant coastal managers and authorities the
confidence to work together to plan for our future and the impacts of future sea
level rises. This is another example of how we — the Brumby Labor government —
are working and acting on climate change. We are not sceptical about it, but
active and proactive about it, and we are continuing to make Victoria the best
place to live, work and raise a family.