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Australian Coastal Society Newsletter.

Australian Coastal Society Members Newsletter

Report of the Chair of Australian Coastal Society

The last 6 months has been very hectic for me personally and for the ACS. I have been delighted with the progress in the establishment of chapters in some states; continued development of the web site and discussion information; submissions to state governments; and at long last  federal government acceptance our application for charitable status. It has also been valuable to cooperate with other organisations such as the National Sea Change Taskforce in areas of policy development and advocacy.

There have been a number of opportunities for me to speak on behalf of ACS at meetings. At times it is somewhat tricky as I wear several hats and it is necessary to be cautious about what is said under what circumstances. Nevertheless the ACS offers me the chance to speak about those coastal issues that concern most of us. Climate change impacts, population growth, inadequate infrastructure provision, public versus private good, NRM and ecosystem issues,  legal/policy problems related to planning, and other matters that have been  raised in recent government reports or government actions, have  provided me with material for discussion. I am very grateful to all who have participated in these meetings and have further contributed to my understanding and learning.

In April and May I visited the UK, USA and New Zealand. It was fantastic to meet a wide range of government officials, consultants and researchers who are engaged in coastal work. Consideration of uncertainties in coastal management and planning are high on the agenda of many given the array of legal, financial, climate change and social factors that influence coastal land use and environments. We have much in common with these countries. However, there are differences, for instance our concerns over legal liabilities of local government are not as pressing as it is here. In the UK and USA, adaptation to climate change is an issue at the highest levels of government. Yet peculiarities of local or state legislation or legal cases complicate longer term decision making. I am struggling with how the best of these overseas experiences can be incorporated into federal and state policies in Australia. One such experience is the application of the Public Trust Doctrine in various states in the USA.

The Coasts and Climate Change Council, which I chair, is attempting to address several of the recommendations that came from the House of Representatives report of 2009. We have been cooperating with the Australian Local Government Association on matters that directly impact on local government in coastal regions. Pressures from land owners pushing their cases for property rights seem to be growing. As these owners become more aware of potential impacts of climate change they will not want to see actions that may possibly cause loss of property value or higher insurance premiums. But councils are also required to consider the public good and the interests of future generations and environmental assets. To me there is a strong case for more and more assistance to local governments in making what will be increasingly tough decisions.

ACS must continue to provide a forum for debate and learning as well as pushing for sound public policies. At forthcoming state conferences we hope to engage with all concerned about the future of our precious coast and obtain as much input as possible for or activities.

Bruce Thom

Tax deductability status gained by ACS

On 23rd March 2011 the Australian Coastal Society was entered on to the Register of Environmental Organisations.  This means that all donations (over $2) to the Australian Coastal Society Fund are tax deductible.  The ACS proposes to use tax deductible donations to support our education and professional development programs.  Please consider making a donation to promote the work of the ACS.  For more information please contact our treasurer, Beth Clouston at bethclouston@gmail.com
   
QLD Branch Update
Following a call for nominations to serve on the QLD branch committee the existing committee was returned unopposed with some minor modifications in line up.  Sean Galvin and Jock McKenzie  have stepped down from the committee after providing a great service in setting up our branch. Both Sean and Jock remain active ACS members and deserve the thanks of the entire Qld Branch for their many ongoing efforts in improving coastal management in Queensland. Keep up the good work guys.  Greg McKean had previously stepped down last year due to health concerns and we are now very happy to welcome him back to the committee. It’s great to see him back in form and pushing us to act on issues. It hasn’t been the same without you Greg.  Two new faces have joined the committee this year. Paddy Delalande brings a wealth of local government, coastal vegetation and community engagement knowledge as well as representing central Queensland. He is currently our northernmost committee member being based in Yeppoon.  From our southernmost section of the coast, Dan Ware has also joined the Qld Branch Committee bringing years of consulting experience and links to both Griffith and Bond University. Prior to moving to the Gold Coast Dan was also involved with the Victorian Branch Committee.

So our new Qld Branch Committee looks like this.
  • President – Greg Stuart (Gold Coast)
  • Vice-President – Sue Sargent (Bundaberg)
  • Secretary – Sally Kirkpatrick (Gold Coast)
  • Committee Member – Greg McKean (Sunshine Coast)
  • Committee Member – Jamie Corfield (Brisbane)
  • Committee Member – Paddy Delalande (Yeppoon)
  • Committee Member – Dan Ware (Gold Coast)
As you can see, the committee has a rather strong representation from south east and central Queensland. We would love to increase our representation from north and far north Queensland. If you are keen to get involved please contact me or any of the committee members. 

The committee has prepared an operational plan of what we hope to achieve this year. It is available on the Qld page of the ACS website and we welcome any feedback from members about our direction. Send any comments to qld@australiancoastalsociety.org

We have recently introduced ACS to the new Qld Minister for Environment Vicky Darling and have requested the opportunity to meet with her and discuss coastal management in general as well as some specifics of the new Queensland Coastal Plan and support for the Fraser Island Defenders Organisation call for Fraser Island to be designated a national laboratory for the study of climate change. If any members have any other ideas they would like raised please contact me.  We have also written to the federal environment minister regarding Fraser Island.

ACS members have been heavily involved in the organisation of the upcoming 2011 Queensland Coastal Conference in Cairns and the 2012 Coast to Coast Conference in Brisbane. We strongly encourage all ACS members to attend both these conferences. ACS will have a booth at each and will be sponsoring workshops. Keep an eye out for further details. Make sure to drop by the stand at Cairns and Brisbane to say hello. We are always happy to receive feedback or new ideas for campaigns or activities. Please feel free to contact me or submit ideas via the Google Groups discussion board.

TAS Branch Update
The Tasmanian Chapter has got the ball rolling and maintained a good level of activity since its inception in February this year.

The Committee began by working on some of the basics issues to help get them established, including the development of a new Draft Communication Strategy. This strategy will continue to evolve,but forms the basis of our framework for communication into the future. The Committee has also begun work on a communication protocol to aid day to day communication processes. The Draft Communication Strategy has been sent to the ACS Executive for consideration for a national model.

The Tasmanian State Coastal Policy has been one of the key areas of interest for the chapter, particularly following the Tasmanian Planning Commission’s recent rejection of the Draft 2008 Policy. We have been in regular communication with other key NGO coastal stakeholders to formulate potential and preferred future directions for the State Coastal Policy. Meetings have been very worthwhile and ACS Tas is a key contributor to this collaborative effort.

Another key issue in Tasmania of recent times has been the Canal Estate (Prohibition) Bill 2011.  Before this Bill was debated in the Lower House in June, letters were sent to all of the Members of the Legislative Council expressing ACS's support for the Bill. The Bill was passed in the Lower House and will go to the Upper House soon, where its fate is uncertain.

Other efforts have included a submission to the Northern Land Use Planning Strategy, and contributing to the National ACS Caring for our Country program review submission.

The Tasmanian Chapter will have its next quarterly meeting in July to review progress and discuss coming opportunities for the second half of the year. The meeting will be held in Hobart on Sunday 17 July, and will provide an opportunity for members and non-members to meet and network on coastal issues.

     
VIC Branch Update
It’s been a little time in the making but we are into the process of establishing the Victorian Branch of the ACS. A steering committee of Victorian ACS members was established and a draft charter for the state branch has been prepared. Once established the State Chapter will link Victorian ACS members at the state level. It will also provide an opportunity for members to discuss state level coastal issues and bring them to the attention of the National Executive.
 
Following endorsement of the Charter by the National Executive, there will be a call for expressions of interest to be a member of the state chapter and a subsequent election of office bearers. Members will be notified of the call for expressions of interest following endorsement of the Charter. In the meantime, if you are a Victorian member and you would like to contact the Victorian Chapter of the ACS please email vic@australiancoastalsociety.org

The Victorian Coastal Council (VCC) has begun its social research into community attitudes and behaviour regarding Victoria’s coastal and marine environments. In the past this information has been used to inform development of the Victorian Coastal Strategy. It is anticipated that the VCC will also be reporting of progress of the implementation of the actions identified in the Victorian Coastal Strategy 2008.
 
There have been a number of decisions made by the Minister for Planning, Matthew Guy, regarding coastal land, including the decision to become the responsible planning authority for the coastal land between Narrawong and Dutton Way (Glenelg Shire). Any house to be built on this land now needs to be relocatable ‘in the event future coastal processes threaten the safety of the land and appurtenant dwelling’.
 
On 15th June, Minister Guy announced the establishment of an expert advisory group to help overhaul the planning system in Victoria. The review will look at the structure of state and local policy provisions and regulations under the Planning and Environment Act 1987. The group is to be chaired by Geoff Underwood and includes a current member of the VCC.

SA Branch Update
Our South Aussie chapter has had a successful first half of 2011, and is thrilled to have won our “Save Minda Dunes!” campaign in May. The Australian Coastal Society campaigned to prevent high rise development on one of Adelaide’s last remaining remnant dune systems, and played a pivotal role in raising awareness of the development proposal and values of the dune system.

The chapter has also provided a support for an application for Heritage listing of the Tennyson dunes, the most significant remnant dune system remaining on the Adelaide metropolitan coast. The ACS believes the natural heritage values of the dunes are now of cultural significance, providing a connection with pre-European coastal landscapes and South Australia’s development. The dunes are an important educational resource and hold strong cultural associations for the community and several volunteer groups involved in its management and advocacy.

The highest priority for the ACS in SA is to now focus on formally establishing our chapter. An informal meeting is scheduled in early July to discuss the role ACS can play in SA, establishing the chapter, and building our profile. If any SA members wish to be further involved, please contact SA Chapter Chair Claire Lock at sa@australiancoastalsociety.org

      
NSW Branch Update
By Tom Fitzgerald
Thanks to all of you in NSW for your continuing support so far.  I’ve recently taken over the reins from David James in leading the NSW branch.  I’d like to take this opportunity to thank David for his time and contributions in this role.  A bit about me: I’ve got nine years experience across a number of forms of environmental and coastal management here in NSW, the UK and New Zealand.  I’ve also got active links with our cousins in the New Zealand Coastal Society and have recently started a PhD in risk management and coastal planning at the University of Sydney.  


The NSW branch is in the very early stages of developing an organisational structure for the current workings and future workings of the ACS here.  It’s likely the structure will be similar to those developed for other States and would require the nomination and election of a branch President, Vice-President, Treasurer, Secretary and other committee members.  To get the ball rolling in this regard I’d like to form a steering committee to direct our efforts – so if you are interested please email Tom FitzGerald at nsw@australiancoastalsociety.org
We will be at the NSW Coastal Conference (hosted in Tweed Heads from 8-11 November this year) and will be looking to use this opportunity to get our branch members together for an Annual General Meeting.  Look forward to seeing you there.

We have been active in engaging with our elected Members of Parliament.  In February of this year we published our policy position for coastal management of the NSW coastal area in anticipation of the State election in March.

The Coalition (Liberal-National) proceeded to win the State election in a much anticipated landslide victory and swiftly appointed new Ministers with key coastal management responsibilities, including:
The Hon. Don Page MP – Minister for Local Government
The Hon. Robyn Parker MP – Minister for the Environment and Heritage
The Hon. Brad Hazzard MP – Minister for Planning and Infrastructure.

We are currently in the process of approaching these Ministers to gauge their stance on coastal management issues and advocate our position.

Other changes were made to the Governance structures in the State with the old DECCW being brought in under the wing of the Department of Premier and Cabinet as the Office of Environment and Heritage.  The Department of Planning picked up Infrastructure and is now undertaking significant legislative and policy changes driven by the new Government.  Key amongst these changes is the abolition of Part 3A of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 and subsequent changes to the way State significant development is assessed – due to begin 1 August 2011.  What had previously been considered State significant coastal development applications (subdivisions, tall buildings, tourist development and marinas); will now all be determined by local Government and Joint Regional Planning Panels.  The State Government has also promised to completely overhaul and simplify the planning framework in NSW within their first term of government.  This will provide ACS with an opportunity to positively influence the way the planning system interacts with coastal management in NSW.
ACS Communications Update

Web site upgrade in January increases web traffic tenfold
Over the summer break the ACS website was upgraded to a new format which has resulted in a big jump in website visits as the graph above shows. More and more people are visiting the website as a source of coastal information.

This year we have also set up a Facebook and Twitter page to communicate with members and encourage new memberships. If you use Facebook and Twitter we would love you to "Like" or "Follow" the ACS pages and recommend the pages to your own friends and followers.

The ACS discussion group activity has also increased this year and we would encourage members to use the discussion group email address to instigate conversations, ask questions and forward on information of interest. The email address is acs-discussion@googlegroups.com Just add the address to your contacts and use it whenever you would like to send an email to all other ACS members.

We are always tweaking and playing around with the website following feedback from members on how to improve the site, so if you have any comments or suggestions for improving the ACS website or communications in general, please let us know, as it has been member feedback that has driven the changes (and hopefully improvements) to the way we communicate. Just send your feedback to admin@australiancoastalsociety.org

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If you are not a current member of ACS and would like to become one so that you can receive this newsletter and other membership benefits in the future, click the button above to go to download ACS membership form. Annual membership fees are as follows:
  • Individual – $25
  • Affiliate – $100
  • Student – Free
Members receive regular newsletters, can participate in the ACS discussion group and become involved with local issues through the relevant State chapter.  The society is also looking at implementing professional development programs for members. 
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