Stop logging Melbourne water catchments speech, Samantha Dunn

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Speech at a public rally protesting against logging in Melbourne's water catchments by Cr. Samantha Dunn, Yarra Ranges Shire, Warbuton, November 23, 2008

Contents

Council motion

It was back in October 2007 when I learnt about the clearfelling proposed for the Armstrong and Cement Creek Catchments. I was shocked, I was angry and I knew that logging our catchments was squandering our water supply and it was happening in our own backyard.

That’s what brought me to write a motion for the Shire of Yarra Ranges council to consider,

On the 27th November 2007 I moved the following motion:

That Council supports a public statement opposing logging of water catchments in Yarra Ranges, and further that Council also makes representation to the Premier, the Minister of Environment and Minister of Water, and I propose that the statement is:

The Shire of Yarra Ranges does not support logging in water catchments.

Council recognises that:

1. Logging has a dramatic and detrimental effect on water yield in catchments.

2. Young re-growth trees need more water to grow thus releasing less water into catchments.

3. Logging reduces stream flow and yields to water catchments.

4. It takes 150 years for water yields to return to their pre logged status.

5. It is poor water policy to continue to log our water catchments.

6. Logging of water catchments adversely affects water quality through increasing sediment as does road construction through logging coupes.

We urge the government to consider a policy of no logging in water catchments.

The motion was supported unanimously by the Yarra Ranges councillors.

Since Yarra Ranges opposed logging 14 other municipalities have followed suit and we now find that the

  • City of Bayside
  • Moreland City Council
  • City of Port Phillip
  • City of Whitehorse
  • City of Yarra
  • Knox City Council
  • Nillumbik Shire Council
  • City of Kingston
  • City of Melbourne
  • Maroondah City Council
  • City of Boroondara
  • Frankston City Council
  • City of Maribyrnong and
  • Moonee Valley City Council

all oppose logging in Melbourne’s water catchments. Collectively we represent 1.7 million Melburnians.

In the latest turn of events the motion to oppose logging of catchments did not get supported by councillors in the City of Greater Dandenong, which curiously is the electorate of the Minister for Water, Tim Holding.

After significant public pressure during this council election period those councillors who initially rejected the motion to oppose logging have now committed to supporting the motion to oppose logging should they be re-elected to office. The voice of the people is powerful.

Brumby's broken promise

Back in 1999 the then leader of the opposition, now our Premier, John Brumby went to the election with a policy to stop logging of our water catchments, if it was good policy in 1999 why isn’t it good policy now?

We have already lost billions and billions of litres of water supply from past woodchipping. We have a government that is spending $1 billion on a pipeline, which we all know wont have any water in it, and $3 billion on a desalination plant which will cause untold environmental damage.

If our government stopped logging all our catchments tomorrow we would gain 18 gigalitres of water a year, that’s 18 billion litres of water returned to Melburnians every year.

It would cost the government around $20 million to pay out the logging licences for the water catchments, and they should pay, after all the loggers have families to feed and mortgages to pay.

The government is currently spending $100 million to reconnect the Tarago Dam which will return 16 gigalitres to Melbourne’s water supply, surely Mr Brumby it would be a progressive move to stop logging, pay a fifth of the price and do something positive to protect Melbourne’s water supply.

We have heard through Tammy Lobato’s office that there will be no logging of Cement Creek this year. I have to say this is a hollow victory, there has been no commitment to truly protect Cement Creek, not now or into the future. There is no doubt the government is feeling the pressure and we need to keep that pressure up. Congratulations to you – what you are doing is being heard.

Cement Creek is a forest with considerable tracts of high conservation old growth forest, precious for its lead beaters possum habitat, it includes a site of aboriginal significance and not to mention its value as a carbon store.

No, there will be no clear felling this year, but still the bulldozers will be going in – why? To pave the way to log Cement Creek next year or the year after that? This is indeed a token gesture, whilst there is no clear felling of Cement Creek this year, our government continues to pulp the rest of Melbourne’s water catchments with little regard for our water supply.

It's time to stop logging our water catchments

Mr Brumby it’s time for your government to stop logging our water catchments. We can no longer accept these irresponsible actions which continue to jeopardise and squander our natural assets.

It’s time to stop the sound of chainsaws and bulldozers in our catchments.

It’s time to stop woodchipping our forests for paper.

It’s time to stop threatening our water supply.

It’s time to listen to the will of the people.

It’s time Mr Brumby, to protect our forests, our water, our climate, our future.

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