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Lake Malbena - National Parks and Wildlife Advisory Council Submission

16 October 2018

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

Despite your Government's best endeavours to date to stall our Right to 
Information application, we have a leaked copy of the National Parks and 
Wildlife Advisory Council submission to the federal government on the 
proposal to build permanent luxury huts and allow up to 120 helicopter 
flights and landings at Lake Malbena in the Walls of Jerusalem. The 
National Parks and Wildlife Advisory Council is a key advisor under law to 
you as minister on developments in protected areas. This advice is clear 
that, like the fly fishers and other recreational users of the Walls of 
Jerusalem, your key advisory council does not support this expression of 
interest proposal. On 30 July this year it told the federal government -

NPWAC does not support this project progressing at this time and 
reiterates that contentious projects such as this should not be considered 
until there is an agreed framework to guide assessment.

Your federal colleagues approved it. Can you confirm the NPWAC gave you 
exactly the same advice and it was also ignored in approving this highly 
contentious development?

ANSWER

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Clark for the question. First, I 
categorically reject any assertion of any interference by me, my office or 
any ministerial officers in relation to Right to Information processes. 
They are appropriately handled by independent officers and assessed 
independently in accordance with the relevant legislation.

Second, in relation to the advice received concerning the Lake Malbena 
proposal, it is true to say there are varying views on this project. It 
is certainly one that has invited views from across the spectrum and has 
been subject to a most robust assessment process. It is important for 
members in this place and indeed the broader community to understand what 
this proposal has been through by way of assessment. It was one of the 
proposals that came forward through the expressions of interest initiative 
we opened up to explore potential sustainable, sensible ecotourism 
developments in our wilderness areas. 

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker. At risk of tedious 
repetition, this is a relevance issue. I ask the Premier, does he have 
the same advice on the state approval process from his key advisory 
council on Parks?

Madam SPEAKER - Thank you. I have to disallow that but I will ask the 
Premier to address the question, please.

Mr HODGMAN - I am certainly going through each of the pertinent issues 
here with respect to this proposal and the assessment processes it has 
been through. That is a better way of approaching this rather than 
picking and choosing what suits those who are opposed to sensible and 
sustainable development in our parks, reserves and Crown lands. 

Proposals undergo a rigorous assessment process and any proposal that is 
recommended to proceed is then required to go through requisite 
Commonwealth and state planning and approvals processes. One of the 
proposals under consideration and assessment is this Halls Island/Lake 
Malbena project, designed to develop a standing camp accommodation on this 
island in the TWWHA. The proposal has been publicly available on the 
website of the Office of the Coordinator-General since 2015. It has been 
in the planning and assessment phase for a number of years. 

Helicopters are proposed to transport guests to and from the eastern edge 
of the lake adjacent to the island. The TWWHA management plan of 2016 
allows for helicopter landings and take-offs from Halls Island on Lake 
Malbena. The plan was approved by the Commonwealth and accepted by the 
World Heritage Committee following broad community consultation. The Lake 
Malbena proposal, the TWWHA management plan and the federal government 
EPBC process that allow for the proposal's approval and progression to 
date have all -

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker. For the second time, the 
Premier is not answering the question. Did he get the same advice for the 
state approval process from his key advisory council?

Madam SPEAKER - I cannot accept that as a point of order but I can ask the 
Premier to continue speaking, and I think he believes he is addressing the 
question.

Mr HODGMAN - I certainly am, Madam Speaker. I made the point with respect 
to advice received and views and input available to anyone with an 
interest due to the extensive consultation and rigorous processes this 
proposal has been subject to, which I am outlining. They are pertinent to 
that very point. The proposal, through the TWWHA management plan and 
federal government EPBC process, which have allowed for the proposal's 
approval and progression to date, have all been subject to extensive 
public consultation. Parks and Wildlife has been working with the 
proponents on this matter for over a year. It is a sensitive and 
appropriate development at the site, which ensures impacts can be 
mitigated or avoided as part of the assessment process. 

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker. I believe the Premier has 
misled the House.

Mr Hodgman - You just do not want to know the truth. 

Madam SPEAKER - I am sorry, that is a very serious accusation. 

Ms O'CONNOR - That is right and I ask him to clarify it. He said this 
project has been through extensive consultation. It has not. 

Mr FERGUSON - Madam Speaker, on the point of order, the member has not 
raised a point of order. What she has just said can only be put forward 
in a substantive motion. 

Ms O'CONNOR - Well, it might be coming. The Premier is being misleading. 

Madam SPEAKER - I am going to uphold that point of order because those 
accusations can only be made in a substantive motions. I urge you to 
refrain from doing that again. Thank you.

Mr HODGMAN - Thank you, Madam Speaker. I was asked specifically about the 
advice I have received in relation to this matter. When I provide that 
advice to the member for Clark, she takes exception to hearing it because 
it does not suit her. There has been a voluntary referral of this 
proposal to the Australian Government under the EPBC act. That was a 
voluntary move taken by the proponents and it requires further process. 
There is public consultation. The Commonwealth Department of Environment 
and Energy has determined that the project is not a controlled action 
under the EPBC. It has been assessed by the national authorities and it 
means the project can proceed on that basis. It has not been found to 
pose a threat to matters of national environmental significance. Now that 
the EPBC process is complete, the proponent may progress the development 
application to the local council and following that process. If the 
development application is successful, the Parks and Wildlife Service can 
finalise the reserve activity assessment.

Ms O'Connor - Of course it will be. It's a tick and flick now, isn't it? 
It's a permitted use.

Madam SPEAKER - Ms O'Connor, I give you a first warning.

Mr HODGMAN - I make those points to point to the fact this proposal has 
been the subject of extensive process and consultation. I know there are 
people in the community, including the Greens, who will not be supportive 
of projects like this that continue to keep Tasmania at the front of the 
pack in the ecotourism space. There will be those who express that 
negative view to me, but when you consider objectively the lengthy 
processes this has been through at a state and Commonwealth level, in my 
view that should give Tasmanians confidence that this is one of those 
projects that will make Tasmania the ecotourism capital of the world that 
we should be.