Topics: Marine Biodiversity Hub, Earth Sciences and Climate Change Hub, Carp eradication, East-West Link
Tasmania is home to the icebreaker, it’s home to the Antarctic Gateway Partnership, and it's going to be home to the National Marine Biodiversity Hub.
Tasmania is genuinely helping to lead the country in the protection of our oceans and our research towards the future of the Antarctic.
Tasmania should be really proud, they have an incredible record, but what they’ll do will be even stronger going forward.
Can you tell us a bit about the shark study – it’s more important given the number of shark attacks on the East Coast…
It is. One of the things which I specifically wanted was for the Hub to work with State Governments on shark numbers, shark protection strategies, protection of people against sharks.
They'll be looking at hammerhead shark populations, hammerhead shark activities, great white shark numbers.
Obviously the great white shark is a fundamental issue – in relation to an apex predator in the marine system, but also human interaction.
Their work and their research with New South Wales and other states is to ensure that we understand as best as possible – what are the numbers, why are the – why has there been an increase in shark attacks on some estimates, certainly in WA and there's anecdotal evidence in New South Wales, and what can be done in a way which protects the marine environment but also protects water users.
How much money have you spent on that study? I understand the total amount is for a number of projects.
Sure. So all up it's almost $24 million. The shark study – the final details professor Nick Bax will provide, they are just working on that.
But as much as is necessary will be provided because it's an apex predator, a fundamental part of the global marine environment – but protection of human life. And we need to be able to understand causes and design strategies and mechanisms to protect human life.
Do you think people are genuinely fearful about getting in the water – there's a lot of publicity about shark attacks.
Australians love the water. This is a country for which the beach is perhaps the iconic pastime for families and others.
The vast majority of people in the vast majority of places are safe, but there are areas where great white sharks and other major sharks cohabitate – where the marine environment and human activity collide, and that's what we really need to understand – where are the areas that are at risk and what are the activities we can take.
But Australians have been going to the beach now for as long as this has been Australia. And Australians will continue to go to the beach, not just for decades or generations, but for centuries.
The new Earth Sciences and Climate Change Hub, could you just spell out the significance about – to Tasmania, and what it follows on from.
So there are two new hubs that we've announced today, one of course is the Marine Biodiversity Hub, the second is the Earth Sciences and Climate Change Hub.
Each has a very significant role with Tasmania. The CSIRO leads the Climate Change Hub, but Tasmania and the University of Tasmania are an integral part of it.
It's linked with the polar research, and we want to know the impact on our oceans, we want to know the impact on our weather systems, and we want to know the impact on Antarctica of climate change.
And it's also about helping us to design programs which help adapt, but in particular which reduce emissions.
Is more money going there, or the same money?
No, each of the two hubs will have almost $24 million allocated to them.
So could you just explain a hub? How is it different from an institute, to a university? What is a hub?
So we have, under the National Environment Science Program, six national science hubs.
And these hubs are about partnership and cooperation, taking our best universities and our best institutions and bringing them together.
The future of deep research is about collaborative projects.
So for example, the Marine Biodiversity Hub has the University of Tasmania, the CSIRO, the Australian Institute of Marine Science, Charles Darwin University, the University of Western Australia, the Clean Ocean Foundation and others, all as part of their work.
Similarly, with the Earth Systems and Climate Change Hub – that is about bringing the best scientists together, no longer operating in silos but operating as a team across the country.
So we don't look to the institution, we look to find the best researchers.
Can I just ask very briefly about the next announcement on carp reduction?
Can you just tell us briefly about that?
Sure. So along with Tasmania, we’ll be providing – I’d better get Eric Hutchinson who is…
Can't get away with it.
No, no, no. Along with the Tasmanian Government there's a joint program of $1.3 million for carp eradication.
This is the Eric Hutchinson program – and he – most days in Parliament will be in my office or on my telephone demanding a carp eradication program, but for good environmental reasons.
Because you have some of the finest river systems in the country, they've been damaged by carp, but you've also got some of the great successes.
And Eric took me into the central lake system to see that.
And because that's been such a successful program we decided to partner with Tasmania to crack down on carp. I might ask Eric to say a little bit about it.
Thanks Greg. Thanks for your time in Tasmania here today.
The success that the Inland Fisheries have had in Lake Crescent – and this was success that many people thought couldn't happen – it has happened and it successfully eradicated carp out of that lake.
And it's been an investment over a number of years. It was emergency funding that the State Government requested, and that's been continued with this announcement of $550,000 from the Commonwealth to supplement what the state government is doing to not only – to eradicate carp from Lake Sorell, which is just adjacent to Lake Crescent.
If this gets out of those two systems into the Interlaken Ramsar Reserve and other places, this is a disaster for Tasmania of monumental proportions.
So it's absolutely right and I'm very grateful for Greg's – putting up with the insistence that I've had that this is a really, really important project for our state, not only from an environmental perspective, but in terms of the obligations that we have in respect of the Ramsar Wetlands.
But also the benefits that will flow to recreational fishers in years to come when we can re-establish Lake Sorell as one of the State's preeminent fishing locations.
Minister, could I ask on a different subject…
I'll just take one more and then…
Okay. Our new Chief Scientist has raised the issue of nuclear energy, putting that back on the agenda. What is your view about the realistic possibilities for that, and would it need Clean Energy Finance Corporation funding, for example, to get going?
Sure. Look, under the legislation that's not possible.
And what I'll say is this – the task for Australia and the vision that I set out this morning at the Earth Systems and Climate Change Hub launch in the Greenhouse 2015 Conference is to move towards zero emissions energy.
Now there are a variety of ways of achieving it.
South Australia is holding a royal commission, as a Government we will just wait to see what they say.
My position for many years – so what I say today is exactly the same as what I've said previously – is it's part of the global solution, it hasn't been part of the Australian approach to date.
And we'll wait to see what the South Australian Government says. But it would be quite a journey to do that.
Right now we have huge opportunities to meet and beat our targets – we're going to do that for 2020, we're going to do that in my judgement for 2030.
And our long-term task is to get to zero emissions or very close to that for our electricity and energy generation, and there are a variety of ways of doing that.
Alright, thank you very much.
Sorry, just a question about Melbourne.
Can you confirm that the Government has unlocked $1.5 billion earmarked for Melbourne's East West Link into other projects?
And if so, what would you like the money to be spent on?
Sure. The Commonwealth has made it clear that we are completely committed to East West Link, but the $1.5 billion which is available, as Scott Morrison has said today, should be used in the meantime for important projects to be agreed upon between the Commonwealth and the State.
The number one project is upgrading the Monash Freeway. East West Link should have commenced by now but unfortunately the State has frozen it.
We remain committed to that and we remain committed to funding that.
But in the meantime this money will be available for state and Commonwealth priority projects. And the number one project from a Commonwealth perspective is fixing the Monash.
Thank you very much.