According to The Sydney Morning Herald on 13 June 2009:
The Minister for Climate Change, Carmel Tebbutt, has outlined her views in a letter to the Mayor of Taree, Paul Hogan, who is under pressure from residents of Old Bar beach, on the Mid-North Coast, where properties are already threatened by natural erosion.
Signalling the scale of future problems along the coastline from rising sea levels, Ms Tebbutt told Cr Hogan the Government would give priority to protecting public works and public safety, not private property.
"Given the expected magnitude of requests for funding, government financial assistance to councils is unlikely to extend to protecting or purchasing all properties at risk from coastal hazards and sea-level rise," Ms Tebbutt said.
A senior official in her department, Simon Smith, bluntly told a federal parliamentary committee recently: "I do not think that many people have realised how significant it is and how much valuable land and property is going to be affected."
He also said: "The state's view is that the risk to a property from sea-level rise lies with the property owner, public or private - or, whoever owns the land takes the risk. They gain the benefit of proximity to the ocean and they bear the risk of proximity to the ocean."
This almost sound like a reasonable position to take until one realises that greedy developers and overly complacent local government are not the only villains (or seachange property purchasers the only fools), because successive NSW planning ministers have also given consent for coastal development and development within coastal deltas in full knowledge that such land will be impacted by rising sea levels and increasingly destructive storms and tidal patterns.
Indeed, the current NSW Minister for Planning Kristina Keneally is currently considering an amended Clarence Valley Council Local Environmental Plan for West Yamba which would place another 2,000-2,500 homes in the direct path of adverse climate change impacts and, position the NSW Government at the wrong end of any lawsuit which eventuates.
In light of the climate change/sea levels situation set out in Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre June 2009 position analysis papers, I can feel little sympathy for the current stance of either state or local government:Recent estimates, using a variety of new satellite measurements, provide strong evidence that the ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica are contributing more to present sea-level rise than was estimated by the IPC AR4.
The impacts of changing sea ice cover on Southern Ocean circulation could be significant.
Climate models show that the overturning circulation will slow over the coming decades as the Earth warms, sea ice formation decreases, precipitation increases over the ocean and melt-water runs into the ocean from the Antarctic ice sheet. This slowdown will contribute to a further reduction in sea ice extent around Antarctica and result in a decrease in the amount of CO2 absorbed by the Southern Ocean, both of which represent positive feedbacks and will tend to increase the rate of climate change (Rintoul and Church, 2002)...with flow-on effects both globally and in Australia.