Beefing up Tasmania’s climate legislation

This Summer’s weather and bushfire calamities along with the marine heatwave that is debilitating marine habitats and affecting our commercial fisheries have brought to the fore once again Tasmania’s acute vulnerability to climate change and the need for our state to be rapidly adopting best practice responses to the threat of climate disruption.

Climate Tasmania has had a longstanding concern that the ten year old legislation that underpins Tasmania’s response to climate change – The State Actions Act 2008 – is hugely deficient.

During the decade of its existence the Act has served no purpose and is urgently in need of major revision or replacement.

Because the Act is devoid of mandates, nearly all proposed actions by successive state governments have been in the form of temporal policies (sets of action items) that have been immediately shelved upon every change of government administration or responsible minister. This endless policy churn has been the repeated pattern now for over a decade.

Our reform project
In response to these legislative shortcomings Climate Tasmania has taken up reform of the Act as a major project for 2019.

This year presents a timely opportunity for such a re-write, as the Act has to be periodically reviewed and the state government will shortly be tabling a Bill for that purpose. Climate Tasmania’s concern is that the government’s proposed amendments may be well intentioned, but they go nowhere near enough to providing robust climate legislation that provides 1) continuity beyond single terms of government and 2) mandated actions that require follow through.

Climate change has clearly become an issue carrying such serious ramifications for Tasmania’s society, environment and economy that responding to it calls for a unified political response. This, in turn, means a willing and meaningful engagement by all parts of the legislature, including incumbent parties, MPs and the Upper House.

It is with this in mind that mid last year Climate Tasmania wrote to all MPs in both Houses pointing out the above problems and calling for a genuinely cooperative response. After all, if all the parties in the New Zealand parliament can work together to develop climate change legislation, why can’t the members of the Tasmanian Parliament?

All three incumbent parties have replied to our open letter to political leaders and in the ensuing months we have, on their invitation, held meetings with a number of MPs from both Houses to put our case for both need and urgency. We will be pursuing these engagements in coming weeks prior to the issue coming up for debate in the parliament.

This is where we are at now, and in following posts we will be bringing you progress reports and feedback on how the MPs are responding. We are pleased to report that to date we have received very good hearings and hope that this translates into action.

In the meantime, Climate Tasmania members have been compiling a list of administrative areas – such as in planning and pollution control – where there are obvious gaps in the state’s attention to climate change, as well as new ideas for practical regulatory action to reduce emissions. Some of our policy ideas were included as appendices to the open letter and are available at the above link.

In the near future all this will be translated into detailed advice for the drafting of a comprehensive workable new climate Act that Tasmania can be proud of.


* Readers who support our call for the enactment of a comprehensive, detailed, action oriented Act can assist by contacting their representatives in both Houses and telling them of your support and of your expectation that they will work to bring about such legislation.


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