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Tuesday, 12 May 2009
Page: 3577

Mr Oakeshott asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts, in writing, on 12 February 2009:

(1)   Is he aware of the (a) Old Bar Beach Sand Replenishment Group Inc. (OBBSRI); and (b) genuine concerns this group has about the rapid erosion of the Old Bar foreshore, including the loss of two houses and the imminent threat to several others; if so, what action will he take.

(2)   Does the Government support restoration and preservation of sand on beaches, such as Old Bar; if so, what steps is the Government taking to facilitate, encourage and support restoration and preservation activities; if not, what alternative measures does the Government encourage.

(3)   Will he agree to meet with the OBBSRI, as well as the person who has lost two houses through rapid dune erosion.

Mr Garrett (Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts) —The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

In respect of the Old Bar Beach Sand Replenishment Group Inc:

(1) (a)   Yes. (b) Yes, I am aware of the group’s concerns regarding the erosion of the Old Bar foreshore and the resulting loss of houses in this location. I have received correspondence from the group in November 2008 and February 2009. Planning and management of coastal areas primarily rests with State Governments, which in turn, have devolved many aspects of day to day planning decisions to Local Government bodies. This particular matter is the responsibility of the local Council for Old Bar Beach, the Greater Taree City Council.

  • Under the NSW Government’s NSW Coastline Management Manual, 1990, the Greater Taree City Council has established a Coastline Management Committee to develop a Coastal Zone Management Plan for the Greater Taree City Council area, including Old Bar Beach.
  • Development of the Coastal Zone Management Plan has commenced.
  • Until the Coastal Zone Management Plan has been completed, caution should be taken to ensure that any interim works follow the NSW Coastline Management Manual and advice is sought from the NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change’s Coastal Engineers.
  • My Department has advised the Old Bar Beach Sand Replenishment Group to liaise with the Greater Taree City Council and to engage a coastal engineer to identify the most appropriate method of approaching the sand erosion problem in this specific area.

   While the Australian Government has a limited involvement in coastal planning processes, we acknowledge the challenges facing coastal communities through unprecedented levels of population growth and the potential risks from a changing climate. To better prepare for these challenges the Rudd Government’s recent Caring for our Country initiative directs resources to provide necessary information and stimulate action in coastal communities.

  • Further information on this initiative can be found on the Caring for our Country website at

   The Department of Climate Change through the Local Adaptation Pathways Program is providing funding to help local councils undertake climate change risk assessments and develop action plans to prepare for the likely local impacts of climate change.

  • Further information on this program can be found on the Department of Climate Change website at

   The Department of Climate Change, in consultation with State and Territory Governments, is also conducting a ‘first pass’ National Coastal Vulnerability Assessment. This assessment will identify:

  • the risks to Australia’s coastal zone from climate change (including the implications of sea-level rise);
  • national priorities for Australia’s adaptation response, including priority areas for research; and
  • the final report on the ‘first pass’ National Coastal Vulnerability Assessment is due for completion in 2009. This will be followed by extensive consultation on the results of the work and on directions for the future.

   Additionally, on 20 March 2008, Senator the Hon Penny Wong, Minister for Climate Change and Water and I requested the House of Representative Standing Committee on the Climate Change, Water, Environment and the Arts undertake an Inquiry into climate change and environmental impacts on coastal communities (the Inquiry).

  • The Inquiry is to report on issues related to climate change and environmental pressures experienced by the Australian coastal areas and give regard to policies and programs, population growth, sustainable use of resources, climate change impacts including projected seas level rise, promotion of sustainable communities and governance and institutional arrangements.
  • To date there have been 103 submissions and 22 public hearings to the Inquiry. Public hearings have been scheduled through to the end of May 2009.

(2)   See answer to (1) (b).

(3)   It would be more appropriate for the OBBSRI and the individual mentioned to meet with the State and local government representatives who have the primary responsibility for planning and management of coastal areas.