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Lake Malbena - Development in the TWWHA

12 June 2018

Ms O'CONNOR question to MINISTER for PARKS, Mr HODGMAN

To date under your Government's rolling expressions of interest process for development in protected areas, a process without end, 30 development proposals, including 20 luxury huts, lodges and permanent standing camps, as well as frequent helicopter flights are set for approval in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. All of these were prohibited under the previous World Heritage Management Plan.

While Tasmanians are kept in the dark about this unprecedented assault on wilderness values, we have here a leaked copy of the reserve activity assessment for the Lake Malbena proposal. As you know RAAs are not made public. This document was never meant to see the light of day. It confirms the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area Management Plan was changed to facilitate this development, that it involves three permanent luxury huts on Halls Island, and regular helicopter flights.

Over the past fortnight angry anglers have packed public meetings across the state about your EOI process. What do you have to say to furious anglers who attended these meetings, who rightly believe they have been shut out and their enjoyment of Tasmania's wilderness is under threat from a corrupted process?

 

ANSWER

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for the question. Yes, it is a policy platform that is very different from that of the former Labor-Greens government. We are ensuring that not only are our precious wilderness areas well-protected, including with additional resources as you will see in this week's budget, but also utilised to ensure that Tasmania's visitor economy and the businesses within it and the people who work for them are able to access opportunities in our wilderness areas, including in the World Heritage area, national parks, through an expressions of interest process that was designed to open our state for sensible and sustainable ecotourism business to make Tasmania an ecotourism capital of the world and to allow other people, including our visitors -

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker. I have asked the Premier what he has to say to anglers who believe this process has been corrupted.

Mr Barnett - You are repeating the question.

Ms O'CONNOR - The Speaker does not need your assistance, Mr Barnett.

Madam SPEAKER - As you would be aware, I am not privileged to what is in the Premier's mind so I am yet to hear his argument.

Mr HODGMAN - Thank you, Madam Speaker. I was making the point that we did embark on what was a bold and innovative policy to allow access to our natural areas, which are one of the reasons why we live here but also why so many people want to visit them and see for themselves our world class natural and cultural heritage. It is something that has been done sensitively to support appropriate developments in those areas.

With respect to the issue raised by the member for Denison, our proposal has been undertaken in a way that provides an ability for proponents to have their proposals assessed, very sensitive to the importance of our wilderness areas and their natural values, but also to ensure that they are able to do so preserving their commercial rights. This is a foreign concept to all Greens and probably most Labor members, but in the private sector and in commercial operations it is important that proponents be able to have their matters considered through an EOI process that is assessed by the office of the Coordinator-General. It must go through a strict process and if recommended to progress then it must be subject to the normal approval processes of government.

In relation to this particular proposal which is under attack by the Greens, and perhaps also Labor, this is one that has been put before the national regulators through an EPBC assessment as well. So it is ensuring that we have national and state approvals processes adhered to and responded to by the proponents to address and ensure it meets a very high standard. Subject to obtaining all the necessary state and Commonwealth approvals, the proposal is allowed for under the 2016 Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area Management Plan and this plan was approved by the Australian Government and also accepted by the World Heritage Committee. The proposal involves using an existing heritage hut and standing camps to provide guest accommodation within Lake Malbena. Helicopters are proposed to transport guests to and from to the lake edge adjacent to the island and the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service has been working closely with the proponent to mitigate any impacts on the island and surrounding environment.

A reserve activity assessment has been completed for the project. I am sure all those businesses that have an interest in having their proposals progressed in such a fashion will note with interest the reckless display of the Greens leader who would now like to upend all that for pure political purposes. We take seriously the commercial integrity not only of the proponents, but also of this process. More importantly, or as important, we so do to ensure all proposals are properly assessed by state and commonwealth laws to the highest level –

Ms O'Connor - They're not.

Mr HODGMAN - so that we can see more ability for people to not only operate sensible and sensitive developments in these areas but for more people to visit them. The elitist Greens would love to lock it up and only make it available for some people to access, but there are more people wanting to come to our state to see what our wilderness areas have to offer.

Tasmania does this better than anywhere else. We are talking about nation-leading proponents who are coming forward with ideas, adopting what was an innovative policy approach by this Government, which is in striking contrast to what life was like under Labor and the Greens when our state's economy had stalled.