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Media Release
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

13 October 2006

Labor scaremongering about Torres Strait sea levels is irresponsible

Kim Beazley's Labor has attempted to frighten the people of the Torres Strait with alarmist claims about the potential impacts of rising sea levels.

This week in Parliament, Senator Jan McLucas falsely claimed the Australian Government is doing nothing about climate change and preparing Australia for its impacts.

"The Government recognises climate change will bring a range of unavoidable impacts to Australian communities and industries, including those from raised sea levels, but instead of scare campaigns we are showing leadership and taking responsible action," Senator Campbell said.

"The Australian Government has committed more than $2 billion to tackle greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, including a $500 million Low Emissions Technology Demonstration Fund, a $75 million Solar Cities Trial, a $205 million Renewable Remote Power Generation programme, a $100 million Renewable Energy Development Initiative, and a $52 million Photovoltaic Rebate Programme.

"To help prepare Australia for those impacts the Government is spending $14.2 million over 4 years in a National Climate Change Adaptation Programme.

"We have some of the world's leading sea level rise scientists, and through the Australian Climate Change Science Programme they are researching the causes of this variability around Australia.

"Because of current and wind patterns, and longer term vertical land mass movement there will be considerable regional variability in sea level rise.

"It is well known that for time some islands in the Torres Strait have been affected periodically by erosive king tides.

"Senator McLucas should applaud the Australian Government's real and practical action on climate change, and erosion in Torres Strait, rather than cynically exploiting community concerns, fear-mongering, and peddling alarmist propaganda in the Parliament.

"Contrary to the McLucas' misinformation, the Government is already funding a $300,000 Coastal Erosion Impacts Project under the Natural Heritage Trust, that will give us a better understanding of the extent and causes of coastal erosion in the Strait, so that the most appropriate solutions can be determined.

"Managed by the Torres Strait Cooperative Research Centre in partnership with James Cook University, over 18 months this project will gather and analyse data, engage the community in the research and consultation. The research will ensure community supported options for erosion mitigation.

Media Contact:
Rob Broadfield 0409 493 902

Commonwealth of Australia