A submission to the members of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Environment, Recreation and the Arts to inquire into



Contents Page

Quotations 2
Opening remarks 3
Introduction 4
Terms of Reference 9
Recommendation 12
1 Energy Summary 13
2 Dam Compensation 17
3 Key Report Summaries 18
4 Research Priorities 23
5 International Support
(a) Selected VIP list 26
(b) Sample of letters received Separate enclosure
6 History
(a) The flooding of Lake Pedder 29
(b) Recent developments 31
7 Selection of newspaper articles Separate enclosure
8 Lake Pedder bibliography (in prep) To be supplied


Two Lake Pedder Publications 1972 & 1973

Pedder 2000 launch summary booklet

Pedder 2000 journals (September 1994 and January 1995)

Poster delivered at public hearing 21 February 1995

'Protecting something as wide as this planet is still an abstraction for many yet I see the day in our own lifetime that reverence for the natural systems-the oceans, the rainforests, the soil, the grasslands and all other living things-will be so strong that no narrow ideology based upon politics or economics will overcome it.'

JERRY BROWN, Former Governor of California 1979

'The inevitable progress towards restoration of some of the world's great environmental places lost in the onslaught of misplaced development in the twentieth century can be led by Australia with the recovery of Lake Pedder.'

BOB BROWN, Convenor Pedder 2000, 1994

'It should be possible, over a period of years, to see Lake Pedder restored, at least in the aesthetic sense, to what it once was, even if the plug were to be pulled out years hence. The sooner the better of course, but better late than never. For myself I believe in this impossible dream. Pedder folk will not give up hope. If not we ourselves, the day will come when our children will undo what we have so foolishly done...'

EDWARD ST JOHN QC, Member Lake Pedder Committee of Enquiry 1973 in his supplementary statement to the Final Report, June 1973

'I hope the children who read this book will understand that they can do something to clean up and protect natural bush, lakes, waterways and coastlines, and that when they grow up they will make wiser decisions.'

RAY GROOM, Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development in the foreword to The Little Lake Who Cried by Beth Roberts (Third Edition, 1978). Current Premier of Tasmania.

A submission to the members of the

House of Representatives Standing Committee on Environment, Recreation and the Arts to inquire into


Presented by Pedder 2000 (The Lake Pedder Restoration Committee)

130 Davey Street


Tasmania 7000


13 February 1995


Primary evidence

Note on terminology used in this submission.


Pedder was the cradle of the conservation movement in Australia, ushering in a new phase of concern. It became a great catalyst for the positive gains for wilderness in the eighties. Now it seems destined to inspire restoration projects around the world in the next century.

Flooding of Lake Pedder

In 1974 the Final report of the Federal Lake Pedder Committee of Enquiry analysed the controversy and its implications for the planning of major development projects and the management of natural resources in Australia. Also in 1974 Australia ratified the World Heritage Convention that was to give to the Federal Government the vital powers it had lacked in 1973 when the Tasmanian Premier was able to flatly reject a moratorium offer, even though costs were to be borne by the Australian Government.

The decision to flood the lake in 1967 was made without informed public participation as we know it today. The only opportunity for members of the public to be involved formally in the decision-making process was to appear before a Select Committee of the Legislative Council. But the government introduced the legislation authorising the expenditure on the dam before this Committee had even begun hearing evidence. Moreover, the Legislative Assembly enacted this legislation before the Committee had reported. Not least, both the Committee and the members of the public who appeared before it suffered from inadequate information. It was only late in the Committee's hearings that a representative of the Hydro-Electric Commission revealed that there was an alternative scheme to flooding the lake and he refused to elaborate on why this scheme had been rejected.

All the work done by the Hydro-Electric Commission to flood Lake Pedder between November 1971 and August 1972 may also have been illegal. According to legal advice to conservationists, including a joint opinion by senior Tasmanian and Victorian counsel, the Hydro-Electric Commission had no authority to undertake work in the South-West National Park except in accordance with a plan of management which had not been prepared. As a result, Tasmania's Attorney-General, Mervyn Everett, decided to grant his fiat so that conservationists would have standing to challenge the Hydro-Electric Commission's operations. But Cabinet ordered Everett not to permit the litigation. When he resigned in protest, Premier Reece appointed himself Attorney General and introduced special legislation which retrospectively authorised the Hydro-Electric Commission's actions.

Throughout this period, the Commonwealth government probably lacked power to intervene to save the lake. The Commonwealth's legislative competence in the environmental arena had not yet been expanded by such landmark cases as the Franklin Dam decision. The Convention for the Protection of the World's Natural and Cultural Heritage was not yet even in force, let alone was Tasmania's South-West included on the World Heritage List. Consequently, the Commonwealth could only seek to persuade the State government not to flood the lake. The Commonwealth could not compel it to do so. It would be a very different matter now if the lake still existed and Tasmania wanted to flood it.

The proposal to restore Lake Pedder

It is a changed world. No longer can the pride of a handful of men in Hobart seal the fate of the unique treasures of our nation.

Pedder 2000, the Lake Pedder Restoration Committee, the Lake Pedder Study Group and the Scientific Committee of Pedder 2000 are working on a professional, co-ordinated, pro-active campaign that was launched in April 1994. It quickly gained international support as a series of scientific and economic studies were released. The Committee has a complete set of the reports which provide a basis for our submission. (see key report summaries Appendix 3) The idea that Pedder could be restored as a powerful symbol at the turning of the millennium brought overwhelming reactions from people as far ranging as HRH Prince Philip, the Aga Khan, David Suzuki, Arne Naess, Allen Ginsburg, Joanna Lumley and Dick Smith. (see list of international supporters Appendix 5a and sample of letters Appendix 5b)

The energy study shows that while the Huon-Serpentine impoundment is responsible for 60 megawatts of electricity, the loss of this power may cost Tasmania very little because the state already has a 130 megawatt surplus which will grow to 300 megawatts when Comalco's Bell Bay smelter closes, as expected.

The tourism study predicts that increased tourism resulting from the restoration of the lake could create 600 jobs, bringing in an estimated $24 million a year to the Tasmanian economy. Moreover, the opportunity is there for Tasmania to establish a leading centre for restoration ecology, stemming from the expertise gained in this project. Commonwealth funding will be required for this.

Scientific analysis

Still people raise questions about the project: 'Why bother?'; 'What about the mud, the smell, the mess?' The initial research can answer these local concerns. Damage to the lake bed and associated landforms has been minimal. A geophysical survey conducted by Dr Peter Tyler of Deakin University in 1993 showed that all the features of the original drainage channels are intact under a few millimetres of sediment. The peat mat remains intact, refuting claims that the mudflats will be exposed.

(see Appendix 7 for description of recent dive-February 1995-on the Pedder beach, sponsored by the Examiner Newspaper, confirming Tyler's Report)

Lake Pedder is important not just for its aesthetic, recreational, wilderness and biological values: it is a unique landform. This facet was not taken into account prior to the construction of the dams which flooded the area.

In a set of three papers presented to the Lake Pedder Study Group and released on 28 September 1994, geomorphologist Dr Kevin Kiernan attested that Lake Pedder is a place of immense geoconservation significance.

'On the basis of its geomorphological values alone (it) would seem easily to meet the criteria for inclusion on the list of the World's Natural and Cultural Heritage ...

The area displays well the importance of preglacial topography ... and a glacial landscape modification ... it provides a wonderful exemplar of a closely integrated suite of fluvial, lacustrine and aeolian processes tied to distinctive hydrological and geo-chemical systems that are themselves rooted in the Pleistocene.'

The third paper assesses the prospects of the return of the landforms to their pre-flooded conditions. 'Erosion is confined to the perimeter of the artificial reservoir where it is akin in extent to that produced by discontinuous stretches of roadline... Any moderate-scale damage to the beach and dune systems that had occurred would be likely to be naturally self-healing. However, the evidence indicates that only very minor damage occurred to the dunes during filling of the dams.'

International context

There are at least 17 dams in the USA, Canada and France which are under scrutiny, including dams in Hetchy Hetchy valley (Yosemite National Park, USA), on the Loire River (France) and the Columbia-Snake River (USA/Canada). Most of the dams are being removed to restore migrating salmon populations.

There is a strong parallel between Lake Pedder and California's Stanislaus Canyon. In the early 1980s the Stanislaus River Canyon was flooded by the New Malones dam project. The dam turned into a hydrologic and financial fiasco and the Stanislaus River Council are seeking to restore the canyon. It has now been 10 years since the reservoir last filled and already the trees are growing and the river is coming back to life.

SOS Loire Vivante, a French campaign, has successfully managed to have two big dams on the Loire River abandoned. After the 6 year long fight for salmon migration in the Loire, SOS Loire Vivante is now working with the International Rivers Network to build a European Rivers Network.

In late 1994, Pedder 2000 convenor, Bob Brown, visited a major set of dams facing deconstruction in the USA. He was taken on a tour of the Elwha River near Seattle in Washington State, where the US Federal Government has spent $6 million in investigative work leading up to the removal of two concrete dams built early this century. The dams will go to restore the salmon spawning runs in the river. A million salmon, of nine different species, used to migrate up the river from the Pacific Ocean to spawn. The salmon fishery was assured to the native American Klallam people under a 1854 treaty.

As with our Lake Pedder restoration scheme, the restoration of the Elwha has environmental, economic and employment advantages for the region.

The Elwha dams produce 20 megawatts for a pulp mill. The US Government is finding $29 million to purchase the dams before an estimated $140 million for their complete removal from the canyons in which they are sited. The upper dam's removal will also restore a valley in the World Heritage Olympic National Park. The parallels with our Pedder 2000 project are obvious.

There are 16 dams marked for removal across the USA, for varying reasons.

The Pedder 2000 proposal has received great enthusiasm from U.S. groups such as the International Rivers Network and Friends of the Earth. Dr Brown, who was in the U.S. for the 5th anniversary of Goldman Environmental Prize recipients,

briefed conservationists from many countries on the Pedder 2000 proposal, including people involved in campaigns against dams in France, Hungary, China and Malaysia.

'What you are doing with Lake Pedder is strategically very important for all of us who are trying to turn the tide on dam building around the world'

Philip B Williams Ph.D. P. E.

Honorary President

International Rivers Network

Joint Commonwealth/State responsibilities

Lake Pedder is very much a part of one of the greatest wilderness areas in the world's temperate zone confirmed by its World Heritage listing. Elaborate planning and management arrangements involve both the State and Federal Governments. The Federal Minister for the Environment, Senator John Faulkner, has taken the issue seriously and has already referred the restoration question to the Tasmanian World Heritage Area Consultative Committee.

Pedder 2000's scientific arm has proposed a list of research priorities including some major projects requiring funding (Appendix 4). A symposium on the restoration of Lake Pedder is planned for 7-8 April, 1995. We understand the Committee will be incorporating the papers from this symposium in its evidence.

The use of Commonwealth powers to save the Franklin River was widely acclaimed throughout the nation, a contributing factor to Labor gaining office in 1983. However, the compensation monies which subsequently flowed to Tasmania merely propped up further dam building, when more dams were clearly not required. (see Appendix 2)

Hydro-industrialisation as an economic ethos in Tasmania has now been abandoned. The funds could have been put to better use and this mismanagement will certainly influence the Federal Government in its consideration of further power subsidy claims from Tasmania.

Pedder's restoration seems a worthier cause.


1 To consider the implications of the proposal to restore Lake Pedder for the future management of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA); it is necessary to consider the objectives of management of the Area, and how the proposal fits in with them.

In Commonwealth versus Tasmania (1983) 158 CLR 1), a majority of the High Court found that Articles 4 and 5 of the Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage ('the World Heritage Convention') imposed obligations on Australia in relation to world heritage. These obligations fall primarily on the Commonwealth, although this does not prevent the States from helping to discharge the obligations.

Paragraph 5 (d) of the Convention sets out the obligations in most detail:

'To ensure that effective and active measures are taken for the protection, conservation and presentation of the cultural and natural heritage situated on its Territory, each State Party to this Convention shall endeavour, in so far as possible, and as appropriate for each country:


(d) to take the appropriate legal, scientific, technical, administrative and financial measures necessary for the identification, protection, conservation, presentation and rehabilitation of this heritage'.

This obligation is recognised in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area Management Plan 1992, prepared under Tasmanian law by the Tasmanian Department of Parks, Wildlife and Heritage with Commonwealth assistance. The plan has been approved by both Tasmanian and Commonwealth Ministers.

The plan states (on page 17) that 'the overall objective for management, specified in the World Heritage Convention, is to protect, conserve, present and, where necessary, rehabilitate the natural and cultural heritage'.

The proposal to restore Lake Pedder accords perfectly with this overall objective. Restoring the original lake and its surroundings will not only help fulfil Australia's international obligation to rehabilitate world heritage, but will also allow the presentation of this heritage.

We can elaborate on the way in which different aspects of the proposal meet particular management objectives of the current management plan (e.g. restoring natural ecological processes and systems, enhancing wilderness values, allowing research to develop a better understanding of the natural [geomorphological] values of the area). However, in view of the forthcoming Management Study commissioned by the Lake Pedder Study Group, we choose to postpone our detailed comment. (The Management Brief follows the key summaries in Appendix 3)

2 To consider the potential environmental and economic opportunities and costs arising from the proposed drainage and restoration.

The Restoration will be both an environmental and an economic opportunity for Tasmania. It will further put Tasmania on the map as the Franklin has done.

The nation as a whole will benefit from the international repute.

We believe that profits from tourism together with the potential development of a new industry in restoration ecology and the tremendous publicity spin-off for all Tasmanian quality products will far outweigh any costs. Pedder restored will be a powerful international image maker.


The recovery of Lake Pedder will involve no cost in terms of lost electricity sales. A detailed analysis of power costs and dam debt is integral to our argument and is examined separately (Appendix 1). Similarly, the question of dam compensation money is dealt with elsewhere (Appendix 2).

The cost of physically draining the water through outlet tunnels should be minimal once the optimal flow rates have been established. (see Engineering Report) As for any projected cost for the removal of the dams, Pedder 2000 is of the view that the dams should be left in situ: The Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area Management Plan, 1992 states that 'installations no longer required by the HEC will be assessed for cultural significance and public safety. If not of significance they will either be removed, in consultation with the Department [of Environment and Land Management] and at the expense of the HEC, or allowed to decay.' P. 107

The cost of the physical restoration hinges on ecological considerations still to be fully addressed. For instance, if a no interventionist stance is taken, costs may simply be in terms of visitor management to ensure that visitor pressure is minimal. If an interventionist re-seeding, re-vegetation strategy is deemed necessary (to hasten natural processes and to ensure re-introduction of endemics) considerable cost could be incurred.

Pedder 2000 refers the Committee to the Scientific Group for advice in this area and urges that detailed research be funded accordingly. (Research priorities see Appendix 4)

As the area is already within the TWWHA, management prescriptions automatically apply but obviously there will be an initial cost in establishing a Visitor Centre and appropriate interpretation at either Maydena or Strathgordon or both. In view of the forthcoming Management Study commissioned by the Lake Pedder Study Group, detailed comment on likely management costs must be postponed.

A preliminary study of the economic benefits and costs has been carried out. Pedder 2000's economic consultant, Brian Kohl, is presenting a submission which will underline our case.

The long term benefits of the project are intangible. While the costs can be estimated reasonably accurately, the benefits will be diverse and ongoing and difficult to quantify. Pedder 2000 urges the Committee to take the broadest possible view of cost and benefit and to incorporate ethics and international responsibility as a component of any decision.

3 The adequacy of the information currently available to assess the proposal and the need for further research.

The lake bed and all associated landforms are intact. The studies commissioned to date by the Lake Pedder Study Group have convinced us of the feasibility of the restoration of Lake Pedder. While Pedder 2000 believes sufficient information exists upon which to base an in principle decision to restore the lake, the more detailed physical mechanisms of the draining and restoration require a fully funded study.

The Scientific Symposium (University of Tasmania, 7 & 8 April 1995) will be a spring board for the determination of technical problems to be addressed and we recommend the Committee give this Symposium its full attention.

A Management Study has been commissioned by the Lake Pedder Study Group and this should provide valuable input within the same time frame. A paper on the Archaeological and Cultural Heritage of the area is also in preparation.


Pedder 2000 recommends that the Australian Government, through the Committee of Inquiry, conducts a fully funded study of:


from information compiled by Andrew Blakers, Research Fellow (Engineering) Australian National University

1 The power costs involved

There is no power generation at either of the dams forming the Huon-Serpentine impoundment (HSI); power generation occurs at the Gordon dam. The useful energy embodied in the stored water of HSI is minimal. The energy equivalent of this water when the dam is full is 157 GWh, or 1.1% of total Tasmanian hydro-electric storage. The purpose of Lake Pedder is to transfer the water of the Huon and Serpentine rivers to Lake Gordon.

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

The HEC has spare capacity, amounting to 380 MW (including 170 MW at Bell Bay oil fired power station). In fact, the HEC could close the King, Pieman and Gordon/HSI schemes and still have a few MW of spare capacity available. Draining the HSI would have a minimal effect on the HEC supply capacity. Tasmania has sufficient excess power that it may never need to increase total capacity, although old power stations will need refurbishment or replacement with wind generators and energy conservation measures are warranted. If Comalco leaves Tasmania a further 180 MW of spare capacity will become available, taking the total to 560 MW (compared with likely demand of 790 MW).

If the HEC had built fewer hydro schemes it would now be debt free. Instead the HEC owes $1,655 million, or $3,500 per Tasmanian. The debt to equity ratio is 51:49; ie, more than half the HEC assets are in hock.

The Bell Bay oil power station costs 5.5 c/kWh to run. This is much cheaper than the energy cost from King and Anthony of 8 c/kWh (this cost is partly interest costs and partly repayment of loans). Unfortunately King and Anthony cannot be turned off, unlike Bell Bay, and the HEC has to pay for them whether or not the power is used. Another 2 c/kWh has to be added to these figures to cover the cost of transmission and retailing.

1994 HEC Sales and budget outcome (from 1994 HEC Annual Report)

The 19 industrial companies are getting heavily subsidised power, at a quarter of the price of other companies. Domestic and small industrial and commercial customers now pay the third highest electricity prices in Australia, after SA and WA. Since most employment is in small business, this policy contributes to high unemployment in Tasmania.


Electricity sales: $429 million
Other income: $42 million
Total Income: $471 million


Interest costs on $1,655 million debt @ 11.3% $187 million
Depreciation on $4,100 million of assets $94 million
Energy, network, retail, superannuation and other expenses $166 million
statutory levy, dividend and social service benefits to Tasmanian government $33 million
Total Expenses $480 million
Loss $9 million

The interest expenses of the HEC is a heavy burden. The HEC pays a miserable benefit of just $33 million to the Tasmanian Government on assets of $4,100 million. In addition, this made a loss of $9 million in 1994. In other words, the return on investment is just 0.6%. This is no better than in previous years.

2 Dam debt in Tasmania

It is interesting to see who was right and who was wrong in retrospect in the conservation battles over Lake Pedder and the Franklin River in the Western Tasmanian wilderness. The answer is now clear for all to see. The Hydro-Electric Commission of Tasmania not only caused the destruction of beautiful rivers and lakes and wilderness, but brought upon itself a financial disaster.

The HEC was completely wrong in its forecasts of growth in demand. The present oversupply of electricity in Tasmania is now so large that schemes completed since 1973 could be closed. In contrast, estimates of demand growth by conservationists were reasonably accurate.

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. If the Gordon-below-Franklin scheme had been built then the HEC debt would now stand at $2,500 million. If the HEC had stopped hydro development in 1973, before the destruction of Lake Pedder, then its present debt would be zero.

The HEC received compensation money from the Commonwealth Government for the blocking of the Gordon-below-Franklin dam. The present value of this money, including interest, is $500 million. This compensation was claimed because the cost of alternatives was allegedly higher. As it turned out neither the Gordon dam nor any alternative scheme was necessary. The Commonwealth saved the HEC from financial disaster by blocking construction of the dam. The HEC should be grateful to the Commonwealth for saving itself from its own folly.

The HEC has a woeful record of financial management. It has made a loss in 7 of the last 12 years, including 3 of the last 4 years. It has an official target of a 4% return on equity to its owner (the Tasmanian government). In 1993/4 the return on equity was 0.6%, which is no better than in previous years. Its debt-to-equity ratio is 51:49. That is, after building dams for 60 years, more than half of the HEC's assets are in hock.

The last HEC schemes (the King and Anthony, completed in 1992 and 1994 respectively) cost $1,200 million. The output from these schemes is not needed, and they accumulate interest costs of $140 million per year with no return on energy sales. In 1985, just two years after construction of these schemes began, the gap between the HEC forecast of demand and the actual demand exceeded the combined expected output of the King and Anthony. At that stage the two schemes should have been cancelled saving over a billion dollars. It is a mystery and a scandal that the HEC did not see financial reality at the time.

The HEC also made a huge error in estimating the cost of wind energy, which was an alternative to more hydro power. It estimated in 1983 that wind energy would cost 15 c/kWh (in 1994 dollars). Robin Gray, who was Premier in 1983 and is now Energy Minister, acknowledged recently after a visit to a Californian wind farm that modern wind generators in Tasmania could supply energy for 5-6 c/kWh. This is much less than from the King and Anthony schemes.

The only bright spot in this sorry story is that the original Lake Pedder could be restored at little cost. The draining of the HSI would reduce over capacity in Tasmania by just 15%. The HSI contributes just 1% of total hydro storage in Tasmania. That is, the water in HSI is essentially valueless.

Figure 1: Electricity demand in Tasmania since 1983. The sharp downturn in 1995 is due to the partial shut-down of Comalco.



The 1984 Memorandum of Understanding between the Commonwealth and Tasmania prescribed how Tasmania would be compensated for the aborted Gordon-below-Franklin dam.

Most of the dam compensation package has now been committed to subsidise capital works on two west coast hydro-electric schemes, the King and Henty-Anthony schemes, and a variety of small capital works programs. However, the dam compensation package has not been fully utilised and it can arguably be used as a vehicle to recover Lake Pedder, if the Commonwealth so wishes.

The use of Commonwealth powers to save the Franklin River was widely acclaimed throughout this nation. Whilst the conservation movement applauded the Hawke Government's action it was aghast that the bulk of compensation monies were to be used to prop up further dam-building when more dams were clearly not needed. The glaring need at the time was to use available funds to help diversify the faltering State economy, not reinforce its problems.

The Commonwealth's political decision to save the Franklin was correct. Its political decision not to stand up to the State Liberal Government in determining how compensation funds were to be used was unfortunate. The Tasmanian HEC now has an embarrassing oversupply of electricity, which is likely to rise to over 300 megawatts-one third of the HEC's entire output-by the end of the century. A new power tariff regime, giving Tasmanians strong incentives to use more electricity, was instituted in mid-1994. Power from the King and Henty Anthony schemes is an unsaleable commodity, despite being subsidised by the dam compensation funds. Hydro-industrialisation, as an economic ethos, has now been abandoned.

The 1984 MOU included a further provision: that if the need is demonstrated for a further 68 MW of electricity (representing the balance of capacity that would have been provided by the Gordon-below-Franklin dam) then the Commonwealth would negotiate with Tasmania on further subsidies.

Tasmania cannot put a valid case forward to claim any further subsidies for power production. If the Commonwealth requires a lever to gain Tasmanian Government cooperation in recovering Lake Pedder, then these funds (a specific budget allocation) could be appropriated for that purpose. By coincidence, it is estimated that Lake Pedder's recovery would result in a loss of 60 MW from the HEC's (surplus) power capacity.


Geophysical Study

Professor Peter Tyler, May 1993

The geomorphological features of Lake Pedder and Lake Maria are largely intact as are the principal original drainage channels such as Maria Creek and the Serpentine River. The bed and beaches of Lake Pedder are of the pink sand characteristic of the lake. All major features of the original beach and dune systems are intact. The ferromanganese concretions ('Pedder pennies') are abundant in northern parts of the lake bed. Accumulation of sediment over the original lake bed is slight, no more than a few millimetres. Decomposition of vegetation over surrounding swamps and plains is incomplete. Immediately recognisable remains of original flora lie on the bed of the impoundment. The underlying soil is bound by root systems. From reed-grown areas of the Lake Maria complex, recognisable remains of the original emergent macrophytes are recoverable.

Engineering Report

Douglas Hill, Consultant, October 1993

There appear to be no major problems in draining the Huon Serpentine impoundment. The top levels would be run through the McPartlan Pass Canal, which would then be closed. Further lowering could then be achieved either by spilling through the Serpentine outflow or by pumping to the Gordon.

When the level in the Huon came below the watershed with the Serpentine, further lowering of the Huon would be through or over the dam. If extra capacity were needed, temporary syphons could be installed over the Huon dam.

Possible effects on the rock-fill dams are unlikely to constrain the rate of draining.

Impact on vegetation in the Serpentine downstream may constrain sustained high outflow; impact on landowners downstream in the Huon may constrain outflow in that river.

To reduce possible wave damage to the dunes on Lake Pedder, the water level should be dropped as rapidly as possible over the range of about 990 ft to 960 ft.

A proposal to capture some of the stored water by syphoning or pumping on a temporary basis to the Gordon does not appear economic, or environmentally acceptable.

Some Biological Consequences of Flooding

Professor Peter Tyler et al, February 1994

The possibility for re-establishment of former endemic flora and fauna in a restored environment has been outlined:

(a) Flora

All of the plants considered in 1972 to be endemic to lake Pedder have since been found to occur elsewhere. Therefore, at first sight, it should be possible to re-establish them on the beach of a restored Lake Pedder provided that the new conditions met their requirements. However, most of the species concerned have restricted distributions in SW Tasmania, mainly, in fact, in the World Heritage Area and a major programme of seed-gathering or transplantation may not be consistent with desirable management practices for dedicated conservation areas. Nonetheless, the long-term view must be that a nursery does exist and the re-establishment of the drowned flora is a possibility given time.

(b) Fauna

Of the putatively-endemic fauna of Lake Pedder in 1972 only 1 species (Uramphisopus sp.) was located during this investigation. In itself this finding should not be taken too seriously because only deepwater (-14m) samples were taken. This was a deliberate action because Dr. P. S. Lake has been conducting a far more detailed study of the fate of the fauna of Lake Pedder. His results indicate that most of the endemic fauna did not survive inundation. At the time of inundation, a search was made for the supposedly-unique interstitial fauna of Lake Pedder, in other localities in habitats most closely-resembling those of Lake Pedder's beach, without success. Therefore it must be concluded that the chances of re-establishing the unique fauna of Lake Pedder in a restored environment are, on present evidence, slim indeed. Nonetheless, it must be borne in mind that the location elsewhere of the characteristic flora of Lake Pedder, especially of its beach, has resulted from general botanical surveys of south-west Tasmania (eg HEC-SW Tas Biological Resources Survey) whereas the more dedicated, directed surveys to locate interstitial fauna have not taken place.

Economic Study

Brian Kohl and Dr Louise Crossley, May 1994

Even if the restored Lake Pedder attracts as few as 2000 extra visitors to Tasmania per annum, it would generate an annual $24 million for Tasmania's labour intensive service industries. This would create over 600 sustainable jobs. Wilderness tourism and its overseas visitor numbers are growing about three times as rapidly as general tourism.

A proposed Centre of Excellence in Restorative Ecology, funded by the Federal government, would give Tasmania special intellectual and technical capital for export, as well as added educational and tourist values. There are very great but unquantified benefits in authenticating Tasmania's 'clean, green' image in general, through the restoration project's publicity interstate and overseas. The current HSI impoundment has fallen to being the least attractive of Tasmania's seven top trout fisheries.

Because of the 130 megawatt excess capacity due to the closure of one-third of Comalco's smelting works and an unexpectedly low growth in general demand in recent years, this paper finds that the Lake Pedder recovery will involve no cost in terms of lost electricity sales.

It is clear that a great 'window of opportunity' has opened for the Pedder 2000 project and Tasmania has much to gain in terms of money, jobs and kudos (including authentication of its clean-green imagery in general) from the project. The report adds weight to the question: 'Can Tasmania afford not to recover Lake Pedder?'.

Economic rationalism and cost benefit analysis are notorious for underestimating the long-term benefits of intangible, enduring assets. While the cost of restoration can be estimated reasonably accurately, the benefits will be diverse and ongoing, not least of which will be that of image. What better way for Tasmania to promote its clean green image in the market place? We believe profits from tourism together with the potential development of a new industry in restoration ecology and the tremendous publicity spin-off for all Tasmanian quality products will far outweigh any costs.

Geomorphological Studies (three)

Dr Kevin Kiernan, September 1994

The reports include findings that:

Dr Kiernan concluded that 'it would be professionally negligent for [him] not to advocate the recognition and management of [the natural] Lake Pedder as a site of quite exceptional scientific value.'

On the plan to drain the impoundment to recover the original 10 square kilometres lake, Dr Kiernan's findings include the following.

His study confirms the previous report by Professor Peter Tyler of Deakin University.

To protect the sand dunes from erosion, drainage should occur as rapidly as possible in summer but only after prior studies to ensure the channels of the Huon and Gordon Rivers can cope.

Though revegetation of the scarred impoundment margin 'is likely to soon mask most of it', materials and equipment for any rehabilitation could be barged to such sites while holding the lake level slightly below its present level.

'Any human intervention in the restorative process around the lakeshore will have to be very carefully planned well in advance ... rushed decision-making ... must not be allowed, if the risk of further damage is to be avoided.'

'The impact of two decades of ill-considered impoundment have been of little consequence to the landforms. Many of the photographic images that brought Lake Pedder to thousands, and attracted thousands to Lake Pedder-the rippled sands and burgundy waters, the beach cusps, the towering mountains reflected in tranquil lake waters, the Wagnerian cloudscapes and pink quartzite sands cast with early morning light-will be captured again, pretty much from day one.'

Brief for Management Study in prep 1995

Dr Geoff Mosley, Peak Environmental Enterprises

  1. The principles relating to the protection, and presentation of the area's world heritage values relevant to management including rehabilitation.
  2. Procedures applicable to the making of decisions on management in the Western Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, of which the drowned environment forms a part.
  3. The particular management objectives for the restored area.
  4. Optional scenarios for management of the restored area. It will cover such pertinent matters as access zoning, visitors' services, etc.
  5. Optimal methods of presenting the world heritage values of the restored area to visitors whilst providing the highest standard of protection.
  6. Any other matter which may be referred to you after discussion.







1. Issues identified by specialist members in their own fields

Earth Sciences:

Botanical Sciences:

Zoological Sciences

Cultural Heritage

Engineering Issues

Other Issues

2. Collective View of Scientific Committee Regarding Highest Priority Targets (in order of priority)

3. Support Needed to Enable Programme to Proceed


(a) Selected VIP list

The following eminent persons and organisations have written to Pedder 2000 supporting the reclamation of Lake Pedder.

International Union for the Conservation of Nature,

Gland, Switzerland

World Heritage Committee,

Paris, France

The David Suzuki Foundation,

Vancouver, Canada

Australian Geographic Pty. Ltd.,

Sydney, Australia

World Wide Fund for Nature,

Gland, Switzerland

International Rivers Network,

San Francisco, United States of America

Australian Conservation Foundation,

Melbourne, Australia

The Dhammanaat Foundation for Conservation and Rural Development, Chiangmai, Thailand

Environment Centre of Northern Territory Inc.,

Darwin, Australia

Federation of Environmental and Ecological Organisations of Cyprus,

Limasso, Cyprus

Friends of the Earth Japan,

Tokyo, Japan

Green Earth Movement,

Loyola, Q. C., Philippines

Gulf of Maine Bioregional Congress,

Brunswick, Maine, United States of America

Japan Wetlands Action Network,

Tokyo, Japan

Secretariat for an Ecologically Sound Philippines,

Manila, Philippines

Wildlife Conservation Society of Zambia,

Lusaka, Zambia

Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, President, Bellerive Foundation,

Geneva, Switzerland

Dr. Walter Aigner MBE,

Ingleburn, Australia

Professor V. Leo Bartlett, Professor of Education, Central Queensland University, Rockhampton, Queensland

Carlos Minc Baumfeld, Vice-President Defensores da Terra (and Global 500 winner) Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

John Béchervaise, (Writer)

Belmont, Victoria

Professor David J. Bellamy, The Conservation Foundation,

London, United Kingdom

Vivienne Binns OAM, (Visual Artist),

Lawson, NSW

C. Warren Bonython,

Magill, South Australia

Dr. R. D. Braddock, Reader, Griffith University,

Natham, QLD

Associate Professor Sister Veronica Brady,

Nedlands, WA

Professor Andrew Brennan, Department of Philosophy,

University of Western Australia,

Western Australia, Perth

Emeritus Professor Edward James Britten,

Queensland, Australia

The Right Reverend George V. Browning, Anglican Bishop of Canberra & Goulburn


Gary Caganoff, (Film Producer) Kaganovich Productions,

Paddington, Australia

Dr Arthur C. Clarke, CBE,

Colombo, Sri Lanka

Allen Ginsberg, (Poet)

New York, United States of America

Professor Edgardo D. Gomez, University of The Philippines Marine Science Institute, Quezon City, Philippines

Dr. Peter Marshall, Office of Arid Land Studies, University of Arizona

Arizona, United States of America

Professor Emeritus Arne Naess, University of Oslo,

Centre for Development and the Environment,

Oslo, Norway

Professor Roderick Frazier Nash, Environmental Studies Program,

University of California,

Santa Barbara

Professor Gunavant M. Oza, International Society of Naturalists,

Baroda, India

Sarah Parkin,

Lyon, France

HRH Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh,

President The World Wide Fund For Nature

Gland, Switzerland

T. E. Reilly, Royal Advisor on Nature Conservation to:

His Majesty King Mswati III Ngwenyama of Swaziland,

Mbabane, Swaziland, Africa

Nanao Sakaki, (Poet),

Kyoto, Japan

Professor Atuhiro Sibatani, President, Kyoto Seika University,

Kyoto, Japan

Godfredo Stutzin, (Global 500, Member SSC and CECLA of IUCN, President of Honour CODEFF),

Santiago, Chile

Associate Professor M. Garbutcheon Singh, Faculty of Education, Central Queensland University,

Rockhampton, Australia

Isaev Alexander Sergeevich, (Academician, Director) Russian Academy of Science, Centre of Ecology and Forest Productivity Problems,

Moscow, Russia

Professor Hiroshi Takatsuki, Kyoto University Environment Preservation Centre,

Kyoto, Japan

Shashi Kala Tiwari, (Artist),

Kathmandu, Nepal

Professor Edward O. Wilson, Harvard University, Cambridge,

Massachusetts, United States of America

Dr. David B. Wingate, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Parks,

Hamilton, Bermuda

(b) Sample of letters received by Pedder 2000

See enclosure


History surrounding the flooding of Lake Pedder

Few areas of the world have aroused such sustained controversy as South-West Tasmania. This temperate wilderness area comprises one quarter of the island. Spectacular topography encompasses a mosaic of diverse landscapes from rainforest-clad river gorges to snowy alpine moorland. Lake Pedder was the crown jewel in this wilderness. To Australians Lake Pedder symbolises conservation.

In 1963 the Tasmanian Government acquired Federal funding to build a road right into the heart of the South-West wilderness. Bushwalkers and other informed people had the previous year formed the South-West Committee. As the Gordon River Road pushed deeper into the area in 1965, the government and the HEC maintained a common wall of silence.

The authorities maintained that Lake Pedder-a National Park since 1955-was not going to be destroyed: it was going to be enlarged! The power development scheme was public knowledge by 1967; the Save Lake Pedder National Park Committee formed. A petition to Parliament carried 10,000 signatures. Suddenly alarmed bushwalkers around Australia realised that Pedder, their mecca and a base for expeditions into all parts of the South- West, was to be obliterated by the Middle Gordon River hydro-electric development.

Lake Pedder was set in a glacial valley ringed with rugged mountain ranges. The scale of the dazzling quartzite beach and the subtle and mysterious beauty of the place held an attraction which transcended geographical description. Pedder evoked awe and wonder, a spiritual response, bonding the people who went there. The outcry to save the lake became persistent, reaching its peak in 1971. In one weekend, 1,000 people walked to the Lake. There were unprecedented rallies and public meetings; the Lake Pedder Action Committee (LPAC) galvanised Australians into action. The HEC was seen as a Frankenstein monster. An increasingly articulate opposition arose and the camaraderie of 'the Pedder people' forged a new era of national conservation.

On 23 March, 1972, LPAC organised a public meeting which filled the Town Hall in Hobart. That night saw the formation of the United Tasmania Group (UTG). The UTG, acknowledged to be the world's first Green party pushed environmentalism and a new value system into the political arena.

The Hydro-Electric Commission entered the 1972 State elections with its own scandalous advertising campaign, using public money to twist the facts, threaten Tasmanians with increased power tariffs and denigrate the conservationists fighting to save Lake Pedder.

Appeals for a reprieve for the lake came from around the world. UNESCO regarded the act as 'the greatest ecological tragedy since the European settlement of Tasmania' 184 scientists urged postponement of the scheme. However, by mid 1972 the waters rising behind the Serpentine Dam flowed over Lake Pedder. The Pedder supporters continued to lobby politicians in Canberra. The Victorian LPAC produced an impressive three-dimensional model of the Middle Gordon Scheme to demonstrate the feasibility of an alternative scheme to save Lake Pedder whilst reducing the scheme's electricity output by only one-eighth. (It is worth noting that Lake Pedder was lost to provide just 60-65 megawatts; by comparison, large coal-fired stations may produce 2,000 Mw and the Hoover Dam produces 10,000 Mw).

A vigil was maintained on a dune at Lake Pedder as the lake broke its natural boundaries and flooded the magnificent 3 km long quartzite sand beach 300 metres above sea level. By December the vigil was abandoned.

Six months later a Federal Committee of Enquiry recommended a moratorium on the flooding to allow assessment of the feasibility of saving the lake by modifying the scheme. The enquiry vindicated jaded campaigners, but Federal Cabinet rejected the recommendation.

Then Caucus promptly overturned the decision after presentation of renowned wilderness photographer Olegas Truchanas' audio-visual on Lake Pedder. Truchanas, who had come to Tasmania from Lithuania, knew Lake Pedder in all its moods and communicated a breadth of vision through his unique photographs and commentary. He was one of those remarkable people who influenced the burgeoning generation of Tasmanian wilderness defenders.

Prime Minister Whitlam never formally conveyed the compensation offer of $8 million to Tasmania's premier 'Electric Eric' Reece, though the press reported a rejection. It is doubtful that Reece ever believed such an offer would come from the national government and he was totally bewildered by the wave of public feeling for the natural environment. There was bitter regret for the political and administrative machinery that permitted the flooding to proceed when the full Labor Caucus in Canberra had clearly stated that Pedder should be saved at Federal expense.

In the aftermath of Pedder there developed a central strategy: to pressure the Federal Government into accepting responsibility for the preservation of wilderness in Australia. The moral argument was to be used: protection of wilderness must transcend local parochial (State) interests, for it belonged to all future generations. This led strongly to the political persuasion that conservation meant votes. The Whitlam Government, scalded by the Pedder furore, set up the Australian Heritage Commission to register areas of national significance and, in 1974, signed the crucial World Heritage Convention.

Recent developments

In 1989 IUCN (the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) urged that the long term restoration of the natural Lake Pedder be considered. (IUCN World Heritage Nomination and Technical Evaluation 507: Tasmanian Wilderness Australia, October 1989). The Huon-Serpentine impoundment was retained within the World Heritage Area ostensibly for management reasons.

'The World Scientists' Warning to Humanity', signed in November 1992, called on the government leaders of all nations to exert control over environmentally damaging activities, and to restore and protect the integrity of the earth's systems.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) passed a motion in January 1994 recognising the flooding of Lake Pedder as an environmental disaster which compromised the integrity of Tasmania's World Heritage Area. The IUCN General Assembly said that the lake's restoration would be a symbol to the world of a determination to redress some of the environmental mistakes of the past.

A motion was passed by the 1000 deligates at the Buenos Aires conference of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, January 1994:

'The General Assembly of IUCN, at its 19th Session held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, 17-26 January 1994:

'1. CALLS UPON the Tasmanian State Government and the Government of Australia to investigate the feasibility of:

(a) the restoration of the original Lake Pedder, including the most appropriate method of restoring the vegetation around the lake;

(b) undertaking a detailed analysis including the environmental, social and economic benefits to flow from a rehabilitation programme;

(c) the potential for Australia to capitalise on such benefits and to use the expertise gained from this experience, to assist in similar projects elsewhere in the world in future;

(d) instigating a comprehensive energy efficiency and power conservation programme to diminish electricity demand and generation in Tasmania:

'2. REQUESTS the Director General to make available to the Tasmanian State Government and Government of Australia relevant technical expertise and advice to achieve the restoration of this magnificent natural wonder.'

The aluminium smelter in northern Tasmania is the state's major power user. The flooding of Lake Pedder has essentially contributed electricity for an additional potline at the smelter. In March 1994, this potline was shut down. In addition, a major new hydro-electric power project, the Henty-Anthony scheme, was commissioned in February 1994.

These developments mean that Tasmania now has an excess of electrical power. (see Figure 1: Electricity Demand and Supply Capacity Since 1983 in Appendix 1)

The rigidity of government policy on Hydro-Electric Commission issues is under question once again. There is a growing tide of feeling that Lake Pedder must be restored, just as there is now a willingness on the part of the HEC itself to respond to community attitudes. Deputy General Manager of the HEC, Mike Fitzpatrick, on ABC Radio's Earthworm program in November 1990, said: 'We [the HEC] would evaluate [the facts of the Lake Pedder situation] more closely if the community or segments of the community were to put a sufficiently strong case to do so.'

Informed public debate commenced with the release of the The Geophysical Study in May 1993. It was the first of a series of reports to be commissioned by the Lake Pedder Study Group, a Victorian-Tasmanian coalition with the aim of establishing the feasibility of restoration.

The Pedder 2000 campaign was launched in Hobart in April 1994 and support was rapidly mobilised. Branches soon formed in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Adelaide, Launceston and Burnie, with co-ordination from Hobart. Numerous projects were commenced around the country and the media propelled the campaign throughout 1994.

The House of Representatives Standing Committee Inquiry into the Proposal to Drain and Restore Lake Pedder was announced in December 1994.

Pedder restored is an idea whose time has come.

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