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Parliamentary Questions

Question Without Notice No. 279 asked in the Legislative Council on 22 June 2017 by Hon Robin Scott

Minister responding: Hon S.N. Dawson
Parliament: 40 Session: 1
Answered on 22 June 2017

CLIMATE CHANGE — MEAN SEA LEVEL — FREMANTLE
      279. Hon ROBIN SCOTT to the Minister for Environment:
I refer to the document relating to the mean sea level in Fremantle, which I have provided to the minister. On Wednesday, 21 June 2017 the minister stated in this chamber that the sea level in Fremantle is rising.
      (1) Is it a fact that the Fremantle tide gauge has been operating almost continuously since 1897, a duration of service in the Southern Hemisphere second only in duration to the service of Sydney's Fort Denison tide gauge?
      (2) Is it a fact that with gigantic quantities of soil and rubbish being washed into the sea every year, we should be unsurprised by a continuous and gentle rise in sea levels?
      (3) Is it a fact that the Fremantle tide gauge records show that the mean sea level at the Fremantle tide gauge was around 6 550 millimetres in 1897 and around 6 740 millimetres 59 years later in 1956, a rise over 59 years of around 19 centimetres?
      (4) Is it a fact that after a further 59 years, the Fremantle tide gauge records show that the mean sea level at the Fremantle tide gauge, having reached a high of 6 930 in 2011, was around 6 756 millimetres in 2015, a net rise over 59 years of around 1.6 centimetres?
      (5) Does the minister agree that the Fremantle tide gauge does not provide evidence for an increase in the rate of sea level rise in the past 59 years compared with the previous 59 years?
      (6) Will the minister move for a select committee to assess the real impact of climate change on Western Australia?
The PRESIDENT: Before the minister responds, I remind members—I appreciate that some of you are new to this place—that question time is about putting forward a succinct, concise question and the response should be provided in a similar manner. If you have a very detailed question that might require extensive research to provide the response, you might be better off putting that type of question on notice, otherwise you might be disappointed with the response you get here.
Hon STEPHEN DAWSON replied:
I thank the honourable member for some notice of the question.
      (1)–(5) The questions relating to the Fremantle tide gauge should be redirected to the Minister for Transport as the Department of Transport is the responsible agency. Contemporary peer-reviewed science has repeatedly demonstrated that the main drivers of sea level rise are the thermal expansion of sea water as it warms up, and the melting of glaciers and ice sheets.
      (6) The McGowan Labor government is committed to responsible action on climate change and for Western Australia to play its part in addressing and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The government considers that addressing climate change is a whole-of-government function that should be embedded into all agencies with leadership provided by the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation and the Department of the Premier and Cabinet. In this regard, I am approaching my ministerial colleagues with the view to seeking their feedback on climate change adaptation initiatives undertaken by agencies within their portfolios and will use this information to guide our future approach and priorities.