Taskforce Chair Discusses Coastal Issues with Environment Minister

The Chair of the National Sea Change Taskforce, Barry Sammels, has met with Environment Minister Greg Hunt and discussed a number of current coastal issues, including the proposal to add questions on the ownership and use of second residences to the next Census, in 2016.

“The additional questions are proposed by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in response to research conducted for the Taskforce by the University of Adelaide,” Barry Sammels said. “This found the permanent populations in coastal areas are consistently understated because of when the Census is conducted – mid-week in winter.

Barry Sammels said the Minister had expressed interest in the proposal because his own coastal electorate of Flinders experiences large fluctuations in population numbers between winter ‘lows’ and holidays ‘highs’.

“These fluctuations have a significant impact on planning and funding for local infrastructure and services, and is one of the topics we will be discussing at the briefings for MPs representing coastal electorates in Canberra next month,” Barry Sammels said.

“The Bureau of Statistics has just completed a major field survey of 100,000 households in Western Australia and South Australia to fine tune the Census questionnaire, including the second residence topic.”

Other issues to be discussed at the Canberra briefings include a proposal to allocate additional funding for pre-disaster mitigation in coastal areas, as a means of reducing post-disaster recovery costs, and a recommendation that the Australian Government play a leadership role in developing a coordinated approach to natural disaster mitigation and recovery through COAG.

Barry Sammels said the briefings for MPs are being held at Parliament House, Canberra, on Wednesday 3 September. They are being held in conjunction with the Taskforce 2014 Annual General Meeting of the National Sea Change Taskforce. He said the aim of the briefings is to provide MPs from coastal electorates with an outline of the major challenges facing communities in coastal areas and to highlight the importance of the coast to Australia’s national identify.

Barry Sammels has extended an invitation to representatives of coastal councils to attend the AGM and associated briefings for MPs to add their support to the case being put by the Taskforce.

During the meeting with Minister Hunt, Barry Sammels also discussed the proposal to establish a National Centre for Coasts and Climate at Point Nepean in Victoria. “As a result of this discussion the Minister suggested we make direct contact with The University of Melbourne, which developed the proposal,” he said. “We are in the process of doing that to suggest that the centre offers studies in coastal planning and management.“