Senate debates

Wednesday, 7 September 2022

Statements by Senators

Tamar River

1:18 pm

Photo of Tammy TyrrellTammy Tyrrell (Tasmania, Jacqui Lambie Network) Share this | | Hansard source

The Tamar is in a shocking state. Launceston should be living on a river of gold; instead, it's a river full of mud and poo. It's sad to say it but it's true. I hate to imagine the stuff that's floating around in that water. I cringe at the idea of going for a swim. Those signs that say 'no fishing' and 'no swimming' are on the money. You wouldn't dip a toe in there most days.

This is what we're doing to Tassie's clean, green image. The Tamar is brown. It's brown for all the wrong reasons. The grass creates big, dirty mudflats that destroy breeding grounds for our birds and wildlife. You can hardly get a kayak out there because the mudflats are impossible to bring a boat over. I have no idea where I'll take my lab, Charlie, for a dip. If he ever jumps in the river he'll look like a completely different dog.

These problems are way worse than can be fixed with another task force talkfest like federal Labor is saying, and we need to do better than a bit of extra dredging like the Tassie government is doing. Dredging might tidy things up for a little while, but the locals know that the silt and mud come back in the blink of an eye.

Together, Liberal and Labor's so-called 10-year plan is to clean up five or six hectares of wetlands, when we've lost 100. We still have no idea when they're even going to get started. This thing has been going on for yonks, and we're still tinkering around the edges. Why don't you get it, you guys? Doing little bits and pieces is never going to work. It'll never get you anywhere. You're changing the spark plugs while your engine is broken. These kinds of problems don't get solved by going around the edges. It's time for action to hit the bullseye.

That's why I reckon we should look at a barrage—gates that open when the tide goes out and close when the tide comes in. It flushes the water and pollution out to the ocean and stops it flowing back. We'd have a freshwater lake where the polluted river is now. Trust me, barrages create beautiful waterways. The Tamar's muddy low tides would be a thing of the past. Think Adelaide, Canberra and Singapore, with clean and pretty waterways that people want to be around. We'd also get flood control. We could empty the lake down to Bass Strait and close the gates to stop the tides going upriver to Launceston and inundating the place. Yes, a barrage costs money, but it makes money, too. For a start, we could sell the fresh water to irrigators and hydrogen energy operators, rather than building a ridiculous 50-kilometre pipeline to Lake Trevallyn. Even better, we'd bring in more tourist dollars. All the fresh water would kill off all the bloody rice grass and give us lakeside beaches so that Launnie tourism would get a boost. I bet all those little caravan parks and hotels would love to catch a break after the few years they've had.

It's a big idea, but that's what we need. The river's been stuffed for years. Will Hodgman set up a task force in 2017 and promised that things would get better. Peter Gutwein put money aside for more dredging before the last state election—money that still hasn't been spent. Now the federal Labor Party are chipping us over a few bucks to tidy up things here and there. It's all too slow, too little, too timid. As usual, the politicians talk and talk while the rest of us are left up the creek without a paddle.