Cassy O'Connor MP | Greens Leader and Parks spokesperson
Andrea Dawkins MP | Greens Tourism spokesperson
Cassy O'Connor MP:
In the absence of any clear criteria for the management of tourism in Tasmania's protected areas, the Tasmanian Greens today released a guide to sustainable tourism that ensures wilderness and cultural heritage protection are prioritised.
Parks' Minister Matthew Groom has unleashed an unprecedented level of commercial exploitation of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area and other reserved lands through an Expressions of Interest process which is marked by secrecy and the complete absence of sustainability criteria and statutory process.
Through the EOI process there are plans for a lodge and hut in the Walls of Jerusalem National Park, more huts on the Overland Track, half a dozen huts on the wild South Coast Track, huts inside the Park at Cradle Mountain and a plan to significantly increase visitation to the world's oldest living organism, a 10 000 year old Huon Pine at Mt Read.
This is an unprecedented pitch to exploit Tasmania's wild and culturally rich protected areas for profit alone. It threatens the very values these areas were set aside to protect.
In response to Mr Groom's woeful Draft World Heritage Area Management Plan 2014, the World Heritage Committee recommended that:
"In line with a recent Committee request (Decision 39 COM 7B.35), the Management Plan should establish strict criteria for new tourism development within the property, which would be in line with the primary goal of protecting the property's Outstanding Universal Values, including the wilderness character and cultural attributes."
Minister Groom has failed to deliver these strict criteria, and is opening a new round of EOIs for development in reserves in October this year. He has effectively thumbed his nose at the World Heritage Committee.
The Greens believe the criteria should prioritise the protection of wilderness and cultural values, and that is absolutely not what Minister Groom's opaque process does.
Our guide to potential tourism operators in the TWWHA and other reserved lands aim to fill the current policy and statutory void that poses a substantial threat to wilderness and cultural heritage in Tasmania.
Andrea Dawkins MP:
As key principles, we believe these remarkable places should be recognised as public assets, and lands of enormous cultural significance to Aboriginal Tasmanians who should be given a strong role in the management of protected areas.
All visitor infrastructure in the TWWHA and other protected areas should be publicly owned, with visitor accommodation located in towns and regions outside the protected areas to boost the economies of rural and regional Tasmania.
No tourism operator should be given exclusive access to any part of a protected area as these places belong to the people of Tasmania.
Proposals for private operators to profit on public land warrant a high degree of transparency and public consultation, with a return to the public for the use of its protected asset.
We also need to acknowledge that some parts of protected areas are simply 'no go' areas, due to their inherent sensitivity, wildness and value to Aboriginal Tasmanians.
Most importantly, there needs to be a statutory process developed for commercial use of protected areas. Right now, the ultimate planning authority for development in reserved lands is Matthew Groom and given his appalling record of seeking to open these areas up to unchecked exploitation, that is a real worry.
We would encourage any tourism operator who wants to profit from Tasmania's remarkable protected areas, to abandon the flawed EOI process and propose plans that respect entirely the fact that these places are public assets, set aside for the protection of their globally significant wilderness and cultural heritage value.