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East Coast Alliance and the Freycinet Action Network
Ms O'CONNOR (Denison - Leader of the Greens) - Madam Speaker, I wanted to give the House an update on the Town Hall meeting today which was organised by the East Coast Alliance and the Freycinet Action Network in response to increasing development pressures on Tasmania's beautiful east coast. We went there not long after the bells rang at 1 o'clock and we could not get in the door without having to move people aside. It was an absolutely packed Town Hall, standing room only. I found that incredibly inspiring to see so many people from so many walks of life, no doubt from across the political spectrum, many of whom had travelled far to come to the Town Hall to stand up for Tasmania's east coast.
The catalyst for this meeting is the largest private development, residential tourism development Tasmania has ever seen, which is the proposed Cambria Green mega development at Dolphin Sands and Swansea on the east coast.
For members for Lyons who are not aware of the details on this proposal as they are known to date, it proposes for the Dolphin Sands estate of 3185 hectares, a luxury hotel of up to 200 rooms, 240 units, 70 villas, 80 apartments, two golf courses, a health palliative care centre, a conference centre, art gallery, gymnasium, a village, artificial lake, shops, cafes, restaurants, pharmacy, medical and dental services and an airstrip which the proponent told the ABC's 7.30 Report, is not proposed to carry any more than up to 20 flights a day. In the Mercury today there was an article from one of the proponents, Mr Ronald Hu, who stated, and expects some people to believe, that this is a sensible and sustainable development.
That did not wash with the more than 1000 people who came to the Town Hall today and they are people who came there out of love for this island, love for the landscape, love for the east coast, love for the scale of this place and for the communities that they live in; and fear because they are afraid of the threat that this proposal presents to Tasmania's east coast but also to Tasmania itself. To this island.
It was very clear from the people I spoke to that everyone supports good developments in the right place, but people are increasingly feeling that the public is being shut out of having any say in shaping the future of Tasmania: that the planning system changes and the open for business mantra have sent the message to any and all developers that anything goes. Tasmanians are feeling frustrated and shut out of having a say and they rightly feel that the level of opacity, the lack of transparency, and the lack of engagement with local communities is undermining good planning decisions and good land use planning in Tasmania.
We know that the proponent applied to amend the local planning scheme and to have a specific area plan declared. That decision which was waved through by council on a vote of 4-3 led to more than 400 submissions coming into council. The vast majority of them -
Mr Jaensch - You just said they did not have a say and they were shut out, but there were 400 submissions. How can you be talking about the same thing.
Ms O'CONNOR - It is interesting that you say that. I am glad you asked, Mr Jaensch. Author Martin Flanagan pointed out the master plan proposal was with the mayor and council officers long before it went to the full council. At no point did the community know other than a couple of days before it was decided on by council what the scale of this development was. This is three years after the proponent went to see the Premier and presented him with a gift.
The council had not engaged with the local community before they made a decision, Mr Jaensch. Not at all. Then they waved it through. The reason they waved it through, Mr Jaensch, is because all they saw were the dollar signs - $100 million, we are told. They did not ask where the money is coming from. They did not ask about the signing ceremony in Beijing four days before council made a decision. Do you know what was on the table at that signing ceremony in Beijing, Mr Jaensch? Two flags were arrayed across the table. The People's Republic of China flag and a Chinese Communist Party flag. That was pointed out to me by an academic at ANU. I had not seen that in the image of the signing ceremony. Something is afoot here, Mr Jaensch, and you are a fool if you do not see that.
Mr Jaensch - You are misleading if you say there is no public process because you have just said there is one.
Madam SPEAKER - Order, please.
Ms O'CONNOR - Yes, but the problem that we have is that the public, the people of Tasmania, the local community were the last to know about this proposal. It had been cooking away behind closed doors for some three years. Then council makes the decision based on scant information, no detail about what the proposal actually is in any meaningful sense, no detail on where the money would be coming from and no understanding of the geopolitical realities which author Martin Flanagan rightly talked about today.
The call from the community who were represented at Town Hall today was that it is time the Liberals in government started listening. This proposal is the direct result of the Liberals coming into government and saying we are open for business and then spending nearly five years grovelling to the Chinese communist government. That is what has happened.