Reflections - Issue 3 August 1995

"One of the most moving spectacles of nature (Lake Pedder) is being strangled by blind people, unaware, unmoved..."

"...compared with the original setting it (the impoundment) will remain second rate. It will bear the mark of man no matter how careful or considerate the disguise."

Max Angus, Artist and now patron of Pedder 2000 in evidence to the Australian Governments Lake Pedder Inquiry 1972.


Despite the disinformation attempts to stall the campaign to restore Lake Pedder and the false press reports that it has been shelved, the campaign and Pedder 2000's commitment to it continues at full tilt.

There are no other issues on the Pedder 2000 agenda and restoration will be pursued for as long as it takes. There is no retreat in our resolve to see this beautiful Lake restored to the world and to what it once was.

This does not lessen the urgent importance of protecting the Tarkine and World Heritage forests, the move to plantation forestry and the many other threats to our environment which require immediate attention.

Restoration of Lake Pedder will happen. If it is not first done by Federal intervention to restore the integrity of a World Heritage Area, then it is likely to be done by a future and more enlightened State Government which makes an honest appraisal and sees the economic and aesthetic benefits as undeniable arguments.

A shift of consciousness will occur and the link between the economy and the environment will be accepted as fact. Government policy will be made on the acceptance of this principle and on the principle of recognition of the importance of the unspoilt environment to the human spirit.

At some point Thoreau's dictum that "in wildness is the preservation of the world," will reassert itself.

Pedder 2000, the Greens and all environmentalists are working toward that vision for a future in which humankind renews its relationship with the planet and where possible restores it's wild component.

So please stay with us and this visionary idea, the restoration of the Lake, as we move toward it's inevitable realisation



Professor Nigel Forteath of the University of Tasmania made national headlines with claims that as many as 4000 platypuses were at risk if Lake Pedder was restored His failure to produce scientific evidence for the claim did not make headlines.

We do not intend to waste too much space in this journal discussing his estimates of platypus numbers, how much they eat and the supposed effect of restoration on them. Instead we print an extract from a letter from Doctor T Grant of the University of NSW, who is Australia's leading expert on the biology and ecology of platypuses.

"Professor Forteath is quoted in The Examiner (28 Feb) as saying that "platypuses could eat a kilogram of food a night and in captivity they had been known to eat 1200 worms and 50 small freshwater crayfish in 24 hours". This is not borne out by scientific investigations, which show that the species consumes around 20% of its body weight in wet food per day and that its metabolic demands are normally met by smaller quantities than this. He then used this erroneous information to argue that the large area of the current Lake Pedder is needed to maintain the platypus population, without giving information on the benthic productivity of the current lake. He may be correct, but gives no evidence which supports his conclusion.

Professor Forteath is also quoted as refuting Dr Rose's suggestion that there is probably "about 200 pairs" of platypuses in Lake Pedder, by saying that "there are no such thing as breeding pairs of platypuses. One male services several female." (The Examiner 18 March). He is right to correct Dr Rose, as it is not known whether there are pairs of platypus, nor whether one male serves several female.

Scientists have had incredible difficulty to date estimating actual numbers of platypus and so Prof Forteath's estimates of at least 2000 may represent a breakthrough in this aspect of the species biology, which should be published as soon as possible, with details of how this estimate was reached. I trust that Prof Forteath has not based his estimate on the 70 individuals he has seen in one bay of the lake. Because platypuses can forage over considerable distances, it is impossible to distinguish between unmarked individuals, so that such an estimate would almost certainly have involved the double-counting of many individuals.

Prof Forteath also used my work in the upper Shoalhaven River to indicate the sorts of numbers of platypuses which can be found in 11 kilometres of river. He quotes the figure of 453. This figure is actually the total number captured in the area in a study of over 18 years. Many of these were juvenile animals, which subsequently dispersed from the area, while others died naturally during that 18 year study. The population number in that 18 kilometres of river, at any one time, would be much less than 453 animals. Such are the difficulties of estimating platypus populations, even with mark-release-capture studies. I have been unable to determine the exact population."

Dr Grant goes on to say "more importantly, it is my opinion that scientific work needs to be carried out on the Lake Pedder populations of platypuses before useful conclusions can be drawn on the possible impact of the proposed draining on this unique species in the area. I presume that a full environmental impact assessment will need to be done before the project is carried out, to assess the possible impacts. Until this is done, uninformed comment or evidence can only hinder the decision-making process."

T R Grant Honorary Visiting Fellow, Biological Sciences, University of New South Wales


In the US it is widely recognised, even by the Bureau of Reclamation which was once one of the World's premier dam building organisations, that the era of large dams is now over. The economic, environmental and social cost of large dams was far higher than was admitted when the dams were built, and overall their benefits have been much less than claimed.

Riverine biodiversity in temperate regions is under severe threat. It has recently been revealed that nearly 80% of the total discharge of rivers in Canada, Europe and the CIS is now strongly or moderately affected by fragmentation due to dams and diversion irrigation. (1).

The Oregon Natural Resources Council in Portland has described a changing perception of dams in the US: " Historically questions about dams have been limited to where or whether to build the dam in the first place. Given what we know now it is time to change the terms of the debate. It is time to ask whether or not existing dams should be allowed to remain."

The US National Park Service has removed more than 100 dams on rivers and streams affecting National Parks. The majority of these have been small dams but some have been large like the Elwa River Dam, where cost benefit analysis and environmental impact studies justify removal.

Decommissioning or removal of some US dams has been warranted for safety, maintenance cost and aesthetic reasons. More efficient irrigation and flood control practices have made others obsolete and the destruction of fisheries dependant on free flowing rivers has made the removal of others an economic imperative.

Fisheries on the Milwaukee River were totally degraded because of exotic carp infestation. The Woollen Mills dam was removed in 1988 and native fish species now flourish.

Dam created lake- front property owners are frequently concerned about the "big ugly mud flat" supposedly left after a dam is drained. In reality it has been found that drained reservoirs rapidly revegetate and the "mudflat" argument is fallacious.

Increased tourism, recreation and the improved health of ecological systems dependent on free flowing rivers are readily translatable to dollar values and make a powerful argument for river restoration by dam removal.

Removal of the Serpentine and Huon dams is not necessary to restore Lake Pedder. All that is necessary is to "pull out the plug". The dam structures should remain as monuments to the thinking of an earlier time.

As the International Rivers Network says; " The restoration of Lake Pedder would be an action of great worldwide significance, both in practical and symbolic terms. It's practical significance would lie in the tremendous opportunity restoring Lake Pedder offers for the scientific study of ecosystem restoration." (1)

(1). Patrick McCully, Campaigns Director, International Rivers Network.

US source material from the journal "River Voices"


Diversion outlets on the Serpentine and Huon River dams can be opened, allowing impoundment waters to drain out of the valley. How rapidly the water should be removed is a matter for more study.

Some assisted revegetation would certainly be necessary where there is erosion around the present water level, but in the main natural processes would be likely to be sufficient. A definitive determination of the degree of assistance given to the natural process by additional revegetation work would require further study and was the subject of a number of papers at the recent symposium in Hobart.

Studies have already shown the Lake landforms to be undamaged under a fine covering of silt. This would wash off after a few seasons rains exposing them largely as they were .

There would be some initial increase in silt levels downstream, but it is likely that this would be less than that caused by the clearfelling now being practiced in the forests of the Picton, Weld and Huon catchments.

Pedder 2000 and the Greens seek a full environmental impact assessment, cost benefit analysis and full studies of all the major contentious issues to take the unknowns out of restoration.

We seek transparency and complete and public information as a prelude to restoration. Those opposed to the idea cannot make a similar claim.


"Disinformation. noun - deliberately false information".

In the leadup to, during and now beyond the House of Representatives Environment Committee hearings over the last few months, apparent disinformation, selective reporting and outright falsehood about Pedder restoration, Pedder 2000, the Greens, environmentalists and environmental issues, have been daily fare in the press and other media. In our view this has been a deliberate and desperate attempt to discredit the integrity of the campaign and the ideals behind it which time will show are Tasmania's best hope of environmental and sustainable economic recovery.

Here are some of the statements which led us to this conclusion, and the truth as we see it:

The Statement;

"The State Government wants the World Heritage Committee to ban the draining of Lake Pedder as it lies inside the South West World Heritage Area." The Examiner, 7/4/1995.

The Fact;

While we welcome the apparent readiness of the Tasmanian Government to seek Federal help to oppose draining, thereby acknowledging publicly a Federal role in the matter, there is a basic error of fact to consider. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature was reluctant to include the flooded Lake Pedder in the South West World Heritage Area because of it's degradation by damming. It did so only because of the prospect of restoring it to it's former state in the future We have on record advice to this effect from the IUCN..

The Claim;

The cost to restore Lake Pedder will be at least $500m and could be $850m.

The Fact;

The figure has no demonstrable basis. The degree to which active revegetation will be necessary has not been established and this is why properly funded study is an outcome sought from the Committee hearings.

Expensive removal of dam structures has never been on the agenda. For this reason there is no cost comparison with the Elwha dam in the US, where restoration involved the physical removal of two large dams.

The Claim;

A letter from the Prime Ministers Office said that restoration was a matter for the Tasmanian Government.

The Fact;

World Heritage responsibility falls squarely on the Federal Government. It is an international issue, going beyond State borders. The letter from the PM's office was written by a junior staffer and its contents were later corrected by Mr Keating.

The Claim'

Mr. Pritchard admitted to the inquiry that the HEC "got it wrong" concerning power predictions.

The Fact;

We agree and suggest that there is no reason to believe that they have yet got it right.

The Claim;

That contrary to the HEC Act, no release valve was built into the Scott's Peak dam.

The Fact;

If true the dam will have to be breached. Ways to do this safely should be explored. The cost is an HEC responsibility, since if true they deliberately contravened their own Act.

The Claim.

Flushing of sediment will destroy the downstream salmon aquaculture industry as will the flush of cold water.

The Fact.

Ongoing massive clearfelling in the Picton, Weld and Huon catchments has not worried the fish farmers and Professor Forteath to date, and there has been no outcry against it.

Pedder 2000 wants full studies to be completed before restoration to define and avoid all potential problems. If sedementation is likely to be a problem then lets look at it in order to find a solution. Pedder 2000 does not want to harm the Tasmanian economy and on the contrary sees economic benefit flowing from restoration.

The Claim;

There has been no major flooding since the dam.

The Fact;

There is no evidence of decreased flooding. A very small 3% to 4% of the Huon River catchment area lies behind the Scotts Peak dam.

In 1975 the Huonville main centre was 4 feet under water. In 1988 the level measured 8.9 metres at Frying Pan Creek. The 1948 flood at Frying Pan Creek measured 9.2 metres, the biggest for the previous 50 years. However it is true that over this period there has been a slight downward trend in rainfall. Pedder 2000 denies responsibility for this.

The Claim;

Infrastructure to accommodate tourists at Lake Pedder will destroy its natural value.

The Fact.

Pedder 2000 has never advocated facilities and improved vehicle access to a restored Lake Pedder. A complete tourism study needs to be done to show how best to take advantage of increased tourist dollars with minimum environmental impact.

The Claim;

Water reticulation to the Midlands and East Coast will be affected.

The Fact;

Tasmania is well endowed with water resources and there are large bodies of water closer to these regions than is Lake Pedder. Reticulation from distant Lake Pedder is absurd.

The Claim;

Fishing at Lake Pedder (the impoundment) is "magical".

The Fact;

Fishing at the flooded Lake Pedder was excellent. It isn't anymore. Catches have steadily declined in size and number as organic material has decayed and turned into greenhouse gasses like methane and carbon dioxide. This decline is likely to continue as remnant large fish are caught, and new fish only attain average size and number for an artificial lake.

The Claim;

"State Ombudsman Ron Green found the HEC used misleading advertising in promoting it's Hydro Heat tariff. As a result many consumers who had hoped to make long term savings on their power bills found their hopes dashed." The Mercury 9/3/95.

The Fact;

What can we say?

Business and domestic consumers claim that the HEC has increased it's power charges, yet big industry gets cheap subsidised power with a lower employment outcome than small business, who indirectly fund the subsidy. This is surely contributing to the fact that 35% of Tasmanians receive a Commonwealth benefit, - the highest rate in Australia.

The Claim;

Lake Pedder's energy is valued at between $450m and $670m.

The Fact;

Platypus can't fly. Refer the article on Power Economics in this issue.

The Claim;

Tasmania does not have an energy surplus.

The Fact;

They still can't fly. Refer the same article.

The Claim;

There are 2000 platypus in Lake Pedder.

There are 4000 platypus in Lake Pedder.

The Fact;

" Professor Forteath's "ecological arguments are inaccurate and easily countered with evidence from many sources"

This is an extract from material obtained under FOI from the Inland Fisheries Commission.

The Claim;

The campaign to restore Lake Pedder has been shelved by the environment movement, the Greens and lobby groups.

The Fact:

Does this issue of Reflections look like it?

The shoddy attempt at misinformation and untruth in an effort to derail the campaign should be seen for what it is; a further example of the dirty tricks employed with respect to Tasmanian environmental issues since they first became a political threat to this ultra conservative government and it's defacto partner, the HEC.

The Claim:

The Premier is reported in the Australian of the 6th April 1995 as saying "It's time the Pedder pantomime came to an end... the Greens have run up the white flag and are retreating."

The Fact:

There is no retreat and restoration is ultimately inevitable, a fact which infuriates the Premier.

The Claim:

"Draining Lake Pedder is sheer fantasy. It may well be possible technically to drain the Lake, but there is no sound reason for it to be done, either on environmental or economic grounds. Tasmania needs the power it generates to attract future investment to the State." Dr Julian Amos, The Examiner 5/4/1994.

The Fact.

There is an oversupply of power. Studies keep adding to the strong environmental and economic reasons for restoration. Pedder 2000 wants full and open scrutiny and inquiry. Why has this objective so frightened critics that they make these claims? Investment has not been attracted to Tasmania's "cheap power" to date. This has been a fallacious HEC cargo cult cry from the beginning. It remains as much of a lie now as it always has been.


Pedder 2000 and the Greens position has been made clear. At the Pedder Inquiry hearings in Hobart on the 6th of April, Christine Milne denounced the concept of a hierarchical list of priorities. "The Greens are constantly involved in issues where destruction is imminent..we network the circle of issues, take one issue out and the whole loses it's integrity. Pedder is the flagship, with all the connotations of rebirth, rejuvenation and redefinition. The Greens would like a decision for the restoration by the year 2000. Lake Pedder is part of the green vision".

The furore in Parliament and the media has focussed attention on the environment with Dr Julian Amos and the Environment Minister, John Cleary, listing the urgent issues as the King and Queen River pollution, land degradation, phytophthora, carp and greenhouse emissions. Bravo! We await action on all fronts.

When we all agreed these were indeed urgent issues, Michael Lester of the Mercury interpreted our response as a backdown on Pedder. The fact is, Pedder 2000 was formed solely to address a single issue, the restoration of Lake Pedder. But that does not mean that all its members see it as the single, most important issue.

A highly successful scientific symposium was convened by the Hobart University Centre for Environmental Studies on Saturday 8th April. It brought together a number of scientists to discuss and present papers on the scientific and technical aspects of restoration. It foreshadowed the need for research into the hydrology, engineering and revegetation aspects of the proposal.

We must revise the pioneering attitude that this land is ours to rape. We are not robbing ourselves, we are robbing all future generations yet to be born and inhabit this island. Pedder lies at the heart of this attitudinal change, it is the historic root of our environmental movement and it can be a powerful symbol for environmental repair.

Pedder is about a profound shift in our philosophy and our attitude to the land which we inherit and pass on. That is the real reason why it evokes such a response from those who see the land as a thing to be just used and owned.

Pedder will be reclaimed as a sacred place, a temple of the new world view. The quantum leap forward to an age of healing demands that we first revisit the early traditions that sanctified landscape and invested the land with spiritual powers. That is for us a full and honest appreciation of Tasmanian Aboriginal culture, a culture which preserved Lake Pedder for so long.

Helen Gee

Co-ordinator, Pedder 2000.


Compiled from material prepared by Dr Andrew Blakers, ANU.

The economic cost of draining Lake Pedder will be low since the water is essentially valueless. This is because Tasmania has a vast oversupply of electricity, which is likely to continue. Useable water storage in Lake Pedder is insignificant. As it turned out, demand has been so low that no scheme completed since 1972 is needed (Pedder, Gordon, Pieman, King and Anthony). The present spare capacity is 383 mega watts (mw) average (ave) in a system with total capacity of 1356 mw ave. Thus 28% of the system is idle. There are good reasons to believe that Comalco intends to close its operations and move to Queensland. In this case, oversupply will increase from 28% to 41%.

The Hydro Electricity Commission has caused the destruction of rivers, lakes and wilderness over the past 25 years. It has also brought upon itself a financial disaster. Predictions by conservationists regarding power demand growth rates and the cost of alternatives such as wind energy were remarkably accurate, while those of the HEC were wrong by a factor of 3 in each case.

The unnecessary hydro construction of the last 20 years has caused the HEC to accumulate an astonishing debt of $1,655 million, or $3,500 per Tasmanian (HEC 1994 Annual Report).

In addition to the debt, Tasmanians bear the cost of 9.9 cents/kilowatt hour (kwh) for their electricity, the third highest in Australia. Major industry pays 2.5 c/kwh. This must act as a disincentive to the major employer of labour - small and medium sized business and industry.

If Lake Pedder were to be drained the only serious loss would be power production amounting to 60 mw ave, or 5% of Tasmania's average hydro electric capacity.

Tasmania received compensation under false pretences in the period 1983-93 to the value of $500 million (present value including interest). For cancellation of the Gordon/below Franklin project. The HEC was aware by 1985 that no new dam was needed, yet continued to construct hydro schemes and take Commonwealth compensation money. If it is decided to compensate Tasmania for political reasons, the appropriate level of compensation is approximately $30 million.

The environmental benefits of draining Lake Pedder are not restricted to restoration of an important part of the natural environment. There may be significant greenhouse gas emissions in the form of carbon dioxide and methane from the enlarged Lake Pedder which could be stopped by draining the lake to return it to its original level.

Adapted and quoted from information supplied by Dr Andrew Blakers from ANU.


After the Huon - Serpentine Impoundment has been drained the protection of Lake Pedder's unique world heritage qualities will need to be given the highest priority in management, but there is no reason why people can't start to enjoy the area again almost immediately. Indeed plans to make sure that visitors are able to enjoy the area to the maximum extent possible and that interested people everywhere are able to be involved with the rehabilitation project need to be important parts of the strategy for the areas restoration.

These are two of the conclusions of a management study carried out by Dr. Geoff Mosley for the Lake Pedder Study Group, "Lake Pedder, A Report on The Future Management of The Area Proposed For Restoration". Dr Mosley , an expert in world heritage assessment examines the factors, principles and objectives for the management of the area, and analyses the pros and cons of three alternative planning options which would allow the area to be both cherished and enjoyed.

Of the three possibilities discussed - 1. Wilderness, 2. Western wilderness/Eastern recreation. 3. Vehicular access and recreation., he recommends that the second alternative would be most consistent with the principles and objectives appropriate to the protection and preservation of the world heritage values. This alternative if adopted would see the redevelopment of walking track access to the Lake from the North South and East. The area West of Lake Pedder would be zoned "wilderness", and the area around the beach and to the East would be zoned "recreation"

Dr Mosley recommends that the primary zoning be determined in relation to the long term intentions but suggests that there will be need for a rehabilitation plan and an overriding sub zone for this until the process is complete.

The report also considers a wide range of other matters including access by air, visitor services, the future of the Scotts Peak Road, the track network and interpretation. He considers that with some slight modification the existing world heritage procedures for consultation would give people an excellent opportunity to be involved with the planning of the restored area.

Throughout his report Dr. Mosley , while arguing that the restoration of Lake Pedder is a National responsibility, stresses the special relationship of Tasmanians to the Lake and the crucial role they can play in restoring and presenting this highly significant part of the world heritage area.


The restoration of Lake Pedder is as inevitable as the glacial processes which formed it and we hope it begins by 2000. Evidence to the House of Representatives Committee in Hobart was substantial and detailed. Challenges to it by the HEC, government and others frequently lacked the same degree of credibility. For example, the comment made by Prof Forteath about platypus numbers which was blown out of all proportion by the media. My sympathies are with Prof Forteath in this respect. His ingenuous comments were taken out of context by those who may well have been acting in a manner which was anything but ingenuous, supported by the media.

The report of Michael Lester in the Mercury of 5/4/95 alleging that the campaign had been shelved was false. Mr Lester is being taken before the Press Council to answer for his article. Deliberately false reporting and suppression of information are not legitimate tools in public debate. They indicate there is something to hide.

The campaign to restore Lake Pedder is anything but "shelved". The many environmental issues confronting Australia cannot be prioritised. There is no asking which is most important. It is not a bargaining transaction where we have to choose which one issue needs to be pursued at the cost of another. All issues are linked integrally to the health of the environment, which is ultimately our health.

Where an area is about to be clear felled or a river system is threatened by effluent discharge, then the issue becomes immediate and must be dealt with immediately. This does not mean that this should be at the cost of dealing with an issue of repair and restoration. Both are equally important to the whole picture. This millennium has been about "mining" the environment and the next is about healing it.

The standard view of government is that there is a balance to be achieved between preserving the environment and preserving jobs. Rather, the view should be that environment should be preserved and jobs created - not simply preserved. It is not a balancing exercise but an exercise in commitment which can benefit both the environment and employment. What is needed to enable the approach to succeed is an understanding that the economy and the environment are linked, just as the environment and the human spirit are linked. The restoration of Lake Pedder will mark an important stage in this understanding being achieved.

The education and public awareness activities of Pedder 2000 and various conservation groups are an important step in this process. Restoring Lake Pedder is not just a national issue because of Federal responsibility to restore a World Heritage area and give back a priceless natural asset to the nation.

It is also a state issue and relates to state economic policies. These policies have had an effect on Tasmania which has been to its detriment, and both Liberal and Labor governments have taken similar stances. The economic argument therefore goes beyond politics and must be re-examined by all parties.

Tasmanian governments have held the view that "mining" Tasmania's natural resources and developing large industrial projects is the only way to achieve prosperity and employment. The fact is that this policy has not worked. Tasmania is an island and will always suffer from being remote from markets. "Mining" resources is not the way to overcome this geographic disadvantage in the face of increased global competition. The "cargo cult" of offering "cheap" power to attract industry has not worked - thirty years on where is the industry? where are the jobs? Employment in the major industries has shrunk, and medium and small sized businesses have been discouraged by the power costs which are not subsidised and are higher than most other Australian states. In common with all cargo cults, the cargo has not arrived and the unemployment levels confirm it. The wrong approach has been adopted and Federal compensation money has been wasted in more futile dam construction for baseless reasons.

The present Premier has said (and previous Labor and Liberal Premiers would agree) that restoring Lake Pedder is "hare brained". But how "hare brained" is it compared to each Tasmanian's debt of $3500 for HEC to produce unsaleable and unusable excess electricity? How "hare brained" is it to try to attract industry to an economy which is narrow-based and for a long time has had only one university to service 430,000 people? How "hare-brained" are the poor links between education, research and development and industry on the island? How "hare-brained" is it that because of this there is minimal capacity to develop value added agricultural and green technology, so suited to Tasmania? Such products could well be the way out of the current economic malaise. How long will the Commonwealth government have to pick up the tab for economic development based on wrong premises?

Contrast this to the restoration of Lake Pedder, which will attract visitors, scientific expertise, research and development, and create jobs - an achievement which the Tasmanian governments have not been able to realise.

Brian Dodd - Co-Editor


Legal opinion provided by Mr R Castan QC and Mr G Moor has given the green light on the Commonwealth's power to legislate to restore Lake Pedder.

The opinion was requested by ACF and the Lake Pedder Study Group through the Environment Defenders Office of Victoria, was tabled at the House of Representatives Committee hearing in Canberra.

The source of the power to legislate for restoration lies in the World Heritage Properties Conservation Act, which provides the legislative framework for giving effect to Australia's obligation for the protection of world and natural heritage.

The legal opinion indicated that the Commonwealth is empowered and indeed obligated, to take steps to enhance heritage potential of property. Justice Brenan (the Tasmanian dams case) acknowledged that the protection and conservation of some natural heritage properties may necessitate the destruction of structures on-site "to allow the area to return as far as may be, to a condition of wilderness".

In Castan and Moor's view "the drainage and restoration of Lake Pedder could comfortably be characterised as measures necessary for the rehabilitation of that part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, which incorporates the existing impoundment".

The opinion gives no weight whatever to the Tasmanian government's assertion that World Heritage classification actually prevents active restoration.

Castan and Moor state "we can see no basis in law why the Commonwealth would be inhibited in justifying the drainage and restoration of Lake Pedder as measures necessary for the conservation, presentation and rehabilitation of this greater listed natural heritage."

The legal opinion is very clear. The Commonwealth DOES have the power to legislate for restoration and also indeed has an OBLIGATION to do so.


A vote of thanks to the Federal Labor Party and Minister Faulkner for establishing the House of Representatives Committee to inquire into the restoration of Lake Pedder. Well done Minister. We hope for a positive outcome from the Inquiry.

We urge all Pedder 2000 members to join and become active in political parties to promote the restoration as policy for all sides of politics.

The Victorian Greens have announced their Senate team of Peter Singer, Karen Alexander and Helen Lucas. The Greens are particularly keen to promote membership in the lead up to the coming election. Membership can be arranged by phoning 03 328 4085. We urge you to support their membership drive because the greens have been particularly strong supporters of the Lake Pedder issue.


Low-key advertising resulted in standing room only and a capacity crowd of over 500 in the Grand Buffet Hall of Melbourne University on the 12th of May to see "Moon Over Pedder".

The event, chaired by Doris Graham, featured the original 20-minute audiovisual of the spectacular photography by Olegas Truchanas in the classic presentation by Ralph Hope-Johnstone. This audiovisual, introduced by Melva Truchanas, was created 25 years ago for the original campaign to save Lake Pedder.

Speakers Bob Brown and Geoff Mosley outlined the significance of Pedder and the reasons for its restoration "our generation have an obligation to future generations to restore Lake Pedder; one of the great wonders of the natural world" Mosley said.

Bob Brown said that the size of the turn out in Melbourne highlighted the huge support around Australia for restoration. "It is not a matter of if it will happen, but when," he said.

Guitar musical accompaniment for the evening was provided by Simon Cruise.

Playwright Fiona McVilley and Actor/Director Renald Navarro of the Theatre Company Tango One 60 presented Fiona's play "Solitude My Mother" - a glimpse of the depth of Olegas Truchanas, explorer, photographer, environmentalist and philosopher.

The play was a wonderful prelude to the audiovisual and contributed to the audience's understanding of the importance of restoration and the significance of Lake Pedder to the history of the environmental movement in Australia.

The love Olegas communicated to others for the wilderness of Australia lives on, and his commitment and tireless effort in the struggle to preserve that which is beautiful and unique in nature, remains a source of inspiration today.

An inspirational night!


A dinner at the Cafe Who is being planned for August. Besides a good night out, we will review the Inquiry outcomes and consider our strategy for the future. Contact Pedder 2000 Hobart for details.



The most striking feature of the Tasmanian wilderness resource is the predominance of high quality wilderness in the South-West, together with the major impact that hydro-electric development has had.

From: "Wilderness Quality in Tasmania - A Computer-Based Analysis" in A Report to the Australian Heritage Commission. Lesslie, Mackey and Shulmeister 1988


Inquiry Comes To Hobart. Pedder 2000 state the message outside the Parliamentary Hearing in Hobart, first on the 21st of February and then the 6th of April 1995.


Meet our Patrons.

Ida West, a Tasmanian patron of Pedder 2000, standing on the Serpentine Dam recently. Ida is an Aboriginal Elder, held in great esteem by the Tasmanian Aboriginal Community.


The release of the House of representatives Environment Committee's findings will mark an important stage in our campaign which has gone so far in such a short time. The Pedder 2000 campaign was launched in Hobart in the first half of 1994. In just over a year we have gathered a huge amount of data and support in all states.

Whatever the outcome of the Inquiry, government is unlikely to decide to legislate quickly on restoration.

The campaign will continue and will grow until restoration is complete. Those of us who have been active in starting the campaign and saw Pedder before it was flooded have had the dream to restore it for the last 20 years. We are now being joined by more and more young people who never saw the old Lake Pedder but who share the dream of environmental healing.

This campaign will not go away. We are in it for the long haul. Industry, government and interest groups must accept this fact and consider the continuation and expansion of the campaign as a factor in their decision-making.

It is now time for us to formalise a strategy for the political, publicity, education and information targets to be met to achieve restoration.

We ask you as members and interested readers to contact Pedder 2000 Hobart or Pedder 2000 Melbourne if you can contribute in any way.

What we need:-

Your Ideas on events, publicity, promotion, lobbying, fundraising;

Your Resources - printing, publicity, education, distribution, time, photocopying, interest;

Your Contacts - media, publicity, industry, government and interest group;

Your Skills - advertising, computers, telephone, clerical, public relations, fundraising, TV, Radio;

Donations - A national campaign will require money. If you are able to help we would be most grateful. Adequate resourcing is essential to our success.

While we seek active support in these areas, we also seek the interest of as many people as possible. You do not have to be an active participant to be a part of our campaign. You contribute every time you learn more about Pedder 2000 and speak to others about it.

You will find a form in this issue asking for your ideas, skills and resources. If you feel that you would like to join us and become an active member, please complete it and post it to us.

If you decide to become active in the campaign, we will not ask you to do more than you are prepared to. You set these limits yourself. We are all volunteers and recognise the first priorities of family, work and other obligations.

We encourage and value your help but we don't want it to become a chore. If you give to this campaign, then you must get something out of it. It should be fun. It is the right thing being done for the right reasons by people who care. It is work for the fun of it.

Refer to the article in this issue "The Pedder Campaign From Now On" for background


Please suggest things you think should be done in each of these categories. If you are able to give time to help in the area which interests you, please give your name, number and indicate what you would like to do on the back of this form. If you would like to try something new - this is your chance.


Accounting, social, promoting and administering membership. correspondence, fundraising


Disseminating information to media, schools etc, press releases, Pedder Roadshow, videos, CD ROM


Research, compiling, summarising, indexing, gathering information


Political, industry and interest group lobbying


Strategy for the campaign and any ideas not covered above

See over



Phone and Fax:.......................................................................................................

Your Resources are;

Your Skills are:

ie. What you are good at or would like to try. For example, organising others, organising events, research, writing, arranging or undertaking publicity, anything else.


Pedder 2000,

130 Davey Street

Hobart 7000.

Fax. (002) 235112.

For all Tasmanian residents.

Pedder 2000,

PO Box 41

Surrey Hills NORTH. 3127.


For all Mainland residents.



There are positive signs for the world in recent history. We have seen the Berlin Wall fall and Nelson Mandela become President of South Africa, and I believe very strongly that we will see Lake Pedder free again in years to come.

Future generations will delight in it's beauty as they gaze at the incredible colours and walk on the pink quartzite sand. And the eyes of the world will focus with pride on an island continent where the seemingly impossible became a reality.

Susanne Sticher.

Hanau, Germany.


Susanne heard our call for a helper in the Hobart office and has now joined the team as office organiser and back up to Helen and Hilary. She has totally transformed the Pedder 2000 HQ and brought order into total disarray. Thank you Susanne and Welkommen.

Susanne's last word:

" The planet we live on is holy ground, yet there are very few places where this becomes visible. Lake Pedder was one of these very special places".


You still have time to enter and win the $1000 Harold Ogilvie Poetry Prize.

Hurry with your entry to capture the spirit of Pedder in words.

Entries to Pedder 2000 Hobart please.



Zanskar Cafe. 39 Barrack Street 7pm, on the first and third Monday of the month. Check with the office first on 002.240235. Visitors from other branches are most welcome.


ACF, 340 Gore Street Fitzroy, 7.30 pm, on the first Thursday of the month. Ring the bell for entry. For information phone Annabel on 03. 98362670 or Brian on 03. 94355671.


Bob Brown is going to reprint his landmark book "Lake Pedder".

The estimated reprint cost is $25000. He plans to finance the reprint by calling for interest free loans, donations and pre purchased copies.

If you would like to help get this book back on the shelves and are able to assist with a loan or donation, please contact Helen Gee at Pedder 2000 Hobart.


1995/96 membership is now due. We encourage you to renew your membership or join. Funds from subscriptions and the support of members are essential to our campaign.

$500 for membership until the Lake is restored.

$60 if you are able to afford it.

$20 normal membership.

$10 student.

Please send your cheque to Pedder 2000 Hobart.


Pedder Road Show will be a travelling exhibition to tour Capital cities and major centres.

It could consist of the Truchanas/Hope-Johnson audiovisual or a similar presentation for a large audience. It could have a photographic display to show Pedder as it was and videos. One short,(10 minutes or so) video on the restoration proposal and perhaps another longer production to give more detail. Both could be used in schools as a adjunct to the secondary school education units for the HSC now in preparation. Media methods such as CD ROM could have application.

This is the state of present ideas on the Road Show proposal. We need a few people who are prepared to work on these ideas or develop better ones to bring the Pedder story to the maximum number of Australians.

If you have experience in the of media field and would like to be involved in the project , please phone Brian Dodd on 03. 4355671 or fax 03. 4328466.


Free training in communication, lobbying and promotion for politicians, media, industry and interest groups is available for those interested in becoming active in the campaign and who are able to come to Melbourne.

Training will be for a full day and may involve a follow-up session.

Subject areas covered include; research, policy context of issues, documentation, what's in it for stakeholders, approach practice-intermediaries/in-person, presentation, follow-up, creating lobby networks, material layout.

Training will be provided by an experienced political strategist and public relations consultant.

If you intend to become active in the publicity and political areas of the Pedder campaign and need some theory to back up the practice, phone Brian on 03.94355671 to register.


"The Age" of 9/5/1995 reported on the results of the Pedder 2000 FOI request, which revealed the Tasmanian government's attempt to hide vital information from its own departments from the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Environment and from the Tasmanian public. The Age reported as follows:-

"According to advice obtained by the Pedder 2000 committee, under Freedom Of Information laws and released yesterday, three government agencies back restoration of the unique glacial lake, which was flooded in the early 70s.

The Premier, Mr Groom, who has refused to co-operate with a Federal Parliamentary Inquiry into the plan, has described restoration as "the unreal dream of unreal people", and costed it at more than $1 billion, including $100 million for revegetation.

But in his advice released by the campaign yesterday, a senior Parks and Wildlife officer concluded that like the Berlin Wall, the Pedder hydro-electricity dam presented a potent image.

"No-one would deny the wall's immense value as an item of material culture, and as a cultural icon" said the Assistant Director of Planning and Resources, Mr Peter Bosworth.

He estimated that a restored Lake Pedder would have tens of thousands of visitors each year. In the memo prepared last August, before Mr Groom's cost estimate, Mr Bosworth concluded that rehabilitation could probably be achieved at a "reasonable cost, much below some of the figures being bandied around."

Although Mr Bosworth believed there would be considerable progress with revegetation within twenty to thirty years, another paper by the Division of Land Management said that if the 272km dam bed was resewn at a $10 Million seed cost, greening could be achieved within three or four years."

These documents show a State government suppressing vital evidence about Lake Pedder's restoration. The public will be right to ask why have environmental agencies when they are ignored because of a political agenda. At the House of Representatives Standing Committee on the Environment's hearings in Hobart the government's ecological evidence was given by the HEC and the Premier's Department with the Head of the Department of Planning and Resources, Mr Joe Ramsay, sitting silent.

There have been months of cover-up and deception of the public by the Minister for the Environment, John Cleary, and the Groom government. The dates of the documents make it clear that work within the National Parks and Wildlife Service has been suppressed.

These FOI revelations must make Tasmanians wonder what else is hidden from the public by the State government and the HEC.

In light of this, recent attempts by the Groom government to restrict FOI access by the public , are hardly surprising.

Copies of the letters obtained by Pedder 2000 under FOI are reproduced in the "Pedder Press" in this issue



  1. Scientific studies have shown that the unique beach of fine pink quartzite sand and the dunes of the original Lake Pedder are still intact and only covered by a few millimetres of silt.
  2. Tasmania has a surplus 190 mw of power and the Huon-Serpentine impoundment produces only 60 mw. Percentage-wise, of Tasmania's total power output, the impoundment contributes 5%.
  3. The Gordon Dam and power station will remain intact. Restoring Lake Pedder involves releasing water from the Serpentine and Scotts Peak dams only.
  4. It is envisaged that within a year the drained area would start to regenerate. It may prove advisable to assist with replanting.
  5. The impoundment is the least popular of Tasmania's ten top trout fisheries. Catches have consistently diminished for several years. Tasmania has hundreds of trout fishing lakes and streams, including Lake Grodon, right next door. The world has only one Lake Pedder!
  6. Restoring the original Lake Pedder would certainly result in increased tourism, jobs in service industry and worldwide interest. Properly managed, sensitive tourism and restoration expertise could form the basis for a centre of excellence in restorative ecology.
  7. Misleading statements have been made by the Tasmanian media. Documents obtained under Freedom of Information (FOI) from Tasmanian government departments show that many facts have been suppressed. The government has not co-operated with the Federal Inquiry. The Federal government must intervene.
  8. The widely publicised statements by Prof Forteath concerning platypus numbers have been refuted by Australia's foremost platypus expert, Dr Tom Grant, and by Prof Forteath's own department at the University of Tasmania, which has dissociated itself from his claims.
  9. If Lake Pedder is restored the integrity of a World Heritage area would be reinstated. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has twice called for the restoration.
  10. Pedder is a great symbol for environmental healing as we move into the next millennium.


A symposium "The Natural History & Restoration of Lake Pedder" was held on the 8th of April.

Attended by academics, environmentalists and researchers, papers were presented on the technical, environmental and cultural aspects of restoration.


  1. The landforms are little damaged and are recoverable. The most serious landform damage has been a line of erosion around the shore of the present impoundment, which is of similar visual and landform impact to the Scotts Peak road. Some wave-erosion damage has also occurred to the Lake Pedder dune, but this will be repaired naturally since the dune is a contemporary landform subject to ongoing processes.
  2. The original biology of the Lake and its environs will not be fully recoverable: some species have disappeared from the area (and some may be extinct or nearly so); other exotic species have been introduced to the new lake or have appeared (eg: trout), and will both compete with original species and probably not be removable themselves; and initial plant colonisation if the impoundment is drained will be by species able to adapt to the bare substrate - it may take a considerable period for successional processes to return the vegetation communities to something like those which were present prior to flooding.
  3. Thus, in judging whether restoration should proceed, we need to judge whether what is recoverable is sufficient to make draining worthwhile. In this regard, it is noteworthy that to most people the landforms were what "constituted" Lake Pedder, and these are recoverable.
  4. Should draining proceed, the major problem will be ensuring that revegetation occurs rapidly enough to avoid soil breaking up and eroding (and to avoid enhancing runout from the bare surfaces, resulting in accelerated erosion and larger flood peaks). Time Ducat has argued that rapid revegation is possible but will require synthetic (ie human assisted) methods (which will result in a financial cost). There is considerable scope for research into the most efficient methods for revegetation of such a large area.


  1. The lake and its environs were very poorly documented prior to flooding. The symposium has drawn together as much information as possible on the biophysical and cultural attributes of the original lake, including some very useful re-examination of data to provide a new synthesis of information.
  2. The restoration proposal has resulted in a flurry of new scientific work aimed at investigating the feasibility of restoration. This work is of value not only to the specific issue of restoring Lake Pedder, but to Restoration Ecology generally.
  3. There is general acceptance that restoration is feasible; debate should now shift to the best techniques for restoration (Peter Tyler). The restoration of Lake Pedder is not so much a rehabilitation issue as a revegetation issue (Leon Barmuta).
  4. Further research on restoration techniques should be encouraged, not only for Lake Pedder, but also because other drainings may be needed for a variety of reasons, and we need the knowledge of how to restore such places (Bob Walker).
  5. Restoration (revegetation) of an area as large as the present impoundment would be a project on a scale which is globally unprecedented (Tim Duckett).
  6. The major landforms have suffered very little damage and will re-appear if the impoundment is drained (Kevin Kiernan, Peter Tyler). The major damage is a band of erosion around the present shoreline which is akin to a stretch of discontinuous road, and is of minor geomorphic significance; indeed it is comparable to fossil shorelines which occur in various parts of Tasmania (Kevin Kiernan). there is an important distinction between fossil landforms - those formed by past processes and which cannot regenerate if damaged - and contemporary landforms - those formed by ongoing processes, and which can regenerate is damaged. Very little damage has occurred to fossil landforms at Lake Pedder. Most important contemporary landforms (eg the beach, megaripples and river/creek channels) are undamaged (Tyler) and would regenerate if they were damaged (Kiernan). The dune has suffered some water erosion resulting from a temporary acceleration of the erosion which occurred each winter under natural conditions , and it will be repaired by natural aeolian processes if the impoundment is drained (Kevin Canaan).
  7. However, some irreversible changes to the biological communities has occurred (Sam Lake, Jayne Balmer, Andrew Sanger). Some species have disappeared, and some are being out-competed by introduced species in the new impoundment (eg: Galaxias pedderensis Andrew Sanger). This situation will remain if the impoundment is drained, since the introduced species will remain, and some of the disappeared species may in fact be extinct.
  8. Initial revegetation after draining will involve colonising plant species and communities which will be at least partly different to those present prior to flooding. Successional processes may eventually result in a return to communities more like the original ones, but there may never be a complete return to the previous communities.
  9. The wilderness values of the original lake cannot be restored unless access is removed, which is unlikely (Gee). However, the aesthetic values of the old Lake are largely recoverable and the physical cultural features are unlikely to be damaged (McConnell).
  10. Thus, some aspects of the original Lake (eg landforms) are recoverable, whilst other are not (eg some aspects of the biology). Thus is deciding whether restoration is worthwhile we must decide whether the aspects which are recoverable are sufficient to make restoration worthwhile. The landforms are the primary thing which most people valued about the Lake (Tyler), and these are the aspect which clearly is recoverable.
  11. The major technical issue in restoration is rapid revegetation to stabilise the soil and prevent erosion and produce enhanced flood peaks (Livingston). Natural unassisted revegetation would be too slow to avoid the peat soils drying out, breaking up and eroding, which would also result in downstream siltation (Duckett). However, rapid revegetation and soil stabilisation can be achieved through synthetic methods - at a cost (Duckett). The most appropriate colonising species will not be those which originally were present, but successional processes may gradually return the species composition closer to the original over a period measured in centuries (Duckett). However, a native-looking vegetation would probably be acceptable to most people (Tyler). Perhaps the most important focus for research is testing the viability of seed stored in the drowned peats, and obtaining samples of the peat for revegetation trials with a variety of treatments, and using both the natural seed store and artificial seeding or planting.
  12. The damage provides some flood control on the Huon, namely it reduces flooding by 10%, equivalent to the amount of catchment above the Scotts Peak dam (Livingston).
  13. The existing dam outlets are insufficient to fully drain the impoundment, since winter inflows may be greater than the ouflow capacity. Thus draining will require either a breach of the dam walls, a siphon, or some other method (Livingston).
  14. The rates of draining will depend on weather patterns - high rainfalls could result in temporary water level rises during draining (Livingston). This could cause water levels to fluctuate around particular levels long enough to cause serious erosion. It would be necessary to time drainings for the best times of year to minimise the risk.
  15. Nigel Forteath's paper on the platypus population of the present impoundment raises a philosophical question which must be addressed.

When we destroy one ecosystem (eg the original lake) we inevitably create, or transform it into, another (eg the present impoundment). In then transforming the new ecosystem back to the old one we will disadvantage some species in the same way that the original transformation disadvantaged other species. We therefore have to ask, is it acceptable to disadvantage present species population in order to attempt to return the ecosystem to its former state (especially given that not all the species of the former ecosystem will be restorable)?

My opinion (CS) is that we must be clear about the values we consider most important. If we consider it paramount that we should disturb the present platypus population, despite[ the platypus being a common species which is not endangered, then to be morally consistent it would follow that a similar level of concern for other species would not allow any disturbance of any species population anywhere, whether common or endangered. From this it would follow that no future developments which displace any species habitats should be allowed anywhere, a proposal unlikely to be acceptable to those presently expressing "concern" for the platypus since it would effectively embargo most major future developments.

In this regard it is notable that those arguing that the platypus population of the present impoundment should not be disturbed by draining the impoundment have generally shown noticeably little concern about the effects that other developments elsewhere may have on vulnerable and endangered species other than the platypus. Is the concern being expressed for the platypus perhaps more a matter of political expediency than a genuine concern? (Surely not!)

If on the other hand we consider the restoration of the original landform assemblage at Lake Pedder to be of paramount significance, and accept that whilst the original biology will not be fully restorable, neither will any further rare or vulnerable species be endangered (all the new introduced species in the impoundment being common and widespread species), then we may argue that the values we are restoring are important enough to warrant potential disturbance of a non-endangered species (beyond this there is potential for both questioning the vulnerability of the platypus to disturbance, and for conducting "rescue" operations during draining, as was done recently during the filling of Lake Burbury, a new hydro-electric impoundment in western Tasmania which attracted little concern for endangered species from those now so concerned about the fate of the platypus).

Proffessor Forteath has since acknowledged that his estimate of platypus numbers in Lake Pedder was based on a "major error" and that "it is difficult to make an estimate of actual population numbers without a major research effort"

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