Tasmanian politics is a contest of ideas, especially during elections. It is bad enough that this shifty early election - breaking a promise by our Premier to go full term - basically ambushes our democratic electoral system. But this Liberal government is running an election strategy of ‘keep you head down’ and remain silent, refusing to provide any policy details on major issues in the electorate of Bass. The Premier shocked us all last week when he announced he will not release the long-awaited Tamar Estuary Management Taskforce (TEMT) report that explores future directions for fixing kanamaluka, because we are in caretaker mode due to the election.
This is as laughable as it is frustrating. After more than ten years of inaction, this is just kicking the can down the road. Why commission yet another report, and do nothing with it? Probably because he or some of his party’s supporters may not like what’s in the independent report. Elections are exactly when these debates and discussions should occur. Given this is an issue people care deeply about, they should vote for the change they want to see. The Greens have been unafraid to speak out about ideas to help fix the river’s siltation and pollution issues, and to have this conversation with the people of Bass.
One such solution is the proposed Tamar Canal, which TEMT have considered in their report. Based on the work of several experts, this exciting infrastructure project would re-route the existing hydro flow from the Tailrace outlet back along the West Tamar to the Gorge entrance. This neat solution is partly based on overseas case studies. While it needs a comprehensive feasibility study and environmental assessment, it could also provide an excellent opportunity to create jobs and beautify parts of the West Tamar that have been left languishing for decades, turning these areas into community gardens and sports facilities.
While Launceston City Council focus upon developing the East Tamar sections of the river like Sea Port and Riverbend Park, no interest has been shown in remediation work to fix the areas along the river at Trevallyn. The old silt ponds from previous dredging are an eyesore full of weeds and snakes. Why? Perhaps it's because no property developers have ideas for this area. Projects like the canal won’t, on their own, fix siltation and pollution issues. We need a comprehensive ‘catchment to canal’ plan to accompany this. This plan should be developed by community and independent stakeholders, so governments are not captured by special interests. It's not hard, it just needs leadership, honesty and transparency and a government focused on the community. Will you vote for this or let the Liberals get away with it?