Chapter 1


1.1        On 9 May 2017, the Senate referred the following matter to the Environment and Communications References Committee for inquiry and report:

The current and future impacts of climate change on housing, buildings and infrastructure, accounting for the full range of projected climate scenarios, having regard to matters, including:

  1. recent and projected changes in sea level rises, and storm surge intensity;
  2. recent and projected changes in temperature and precipitation;
  3. recent and projected changes in extreme weather, including heatwaves, bushfires, floods, and cyclones;
  4. recent and projected changes in natural coastal defence systems including coral reefs, kelp and mangrove forests;
  5. the impact of these changes on the vulnerability of infrastructure in coastal areas;
  6. the impact of these changes on water supply and sewage treatment systems;
  7. the impact of these changes on transportation, including railways, roads and airports;
  8. the impact of these changes on energy infrastructure, including generators and transmission and distribution lines;
  9. the impact of these changes on health, education and social services infrastructure, including hospitals, schools and aged care;
  10. the impact of these changes on private and public housing;
  11. the impact of these changes on public recreation and tourism facilities;
  12. the impact on financing and insurance arrangements for housing, buildings and infrastructure;
  13. the adequacy of current state and Commonwealth policies to assess, plan and implement adaptation plans and improved resilience of infrastructure; and
  14. any other related matters.[1]

1.2        The committee was initially required to report by 23 November 2017. However, on 16 October 2017, the Senate granted an extension of time to report until 27 March 2018. On 13 February 2018, the Senate granted a further extension of time to report until 27 June 2018. A final extension to 13 August 2018 was granted by the Senate on 25 June 2018.[2]

Conduct of the inquiry

1.3        In accordance with its usual practice, the committee advertised the inquiry on its website and wrote to relevant individuals and organisations inviting submissions. The date for receipt of submissions was 16 August 2017, although the committee received and considered submissions after that date.

1.4        The committee received 65 submissions, which are listed at Appendix 1.

1.5        The committee held three public hearings for this inquiry, as follows:

1.6        A list of witnesses who appeared at the hearings is at Appendix 2. The public submissions and transcripts of evidence are available on the committee's website at


1.7        The committee thanks all of the individuals, organisations and governments that contributed to the inquiry.

Structure of the report

1.8        Chapter 1 of this report has outlined introductory matters about this inquiry. Chapters 2 to 10 provide an overview of the evidence provided to the committee. Members of the committee have expressed their views in additional comments attached to this report.

1.9        An outline of the matters examined in Chapters 2 to 10 is below:

Note on references

1.10      Many submissions to this inquiry cited published research extensively. This report cites the evidence presented to the committee in the submissions, however, where the author of a submission refers to original research, the citation is generally omitted from this report. Readers should refer to the submissions for details of the research relied on for the evidence presented to the committee (as noted above, the public submissions are available on the committee's website).

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