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Proposal to Privatise Encampment Bay
Parliamentary Activity - Thursday, 14 November 2019
Ms O'CONNOR question to MINISTER for ENVIRONMENT, PARKS and HERITAGE, Mr GUTWEIN
Tuesday's Federal Court judgment exposed just how inadequate the Reserve Activity Assessment process for developments in public protected areas is and just how complicit the Parks and Wildlife Service now is in privatisation of parts of the state's most precious public conservation treasures. Not only did Parks conduct the most scant and low-bar assessment of the Lake Malbena development, it did not conduct a wilderness impact assessment. It either did not consult its own expert advisers or it chose to ignore them, and it failed to consult the owners of the land, Aboriginal people and Tasmanian people.
As Justice Mortimer confirms, Parks and Wildlife manipulated the development proposal to avoid scrutiny of critical elements of it, such as the impact on Aboriginal cultural heritage, and it attempted to game the federal EPBC system.
Can you confirm this is the same corrupted process that will be used to push through stage 2 EOI proposals, all of which are secret, including a proposal to privatise Encampment Bay in the Maria Island National Park for exclusive use for another Ian Johnston proposal to cash in on public protected areas?
Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to get this question from the member, following on from yesterday. Persecution under privilege is what this member is engaging in. Any reading of that federal judgment, which she had obviously not read yesterday when she waded into this place, would indicate that stage 2 of that assessment process, should it proceed in terms of the Hacketts' desire in the original proposal to have a walk to an Aboriginal heritage site, will go through all of the necessary planning processes and will be referred to the EPBC if required. That is what happens and you know that.
It is time we called out the member for Clark, the Greens and the Wilderness Society for this persecution of a young Tasmanian family that simply wants to get on, showcase the best of Tasmania to the rest of the world and, in doing so, assist our economy to grow and create jobs.
Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker, on relevance. The Minister for Environment, Parks and Heritage was asked about a specific proposal to privatise for exclusive use Encampment Bay in the Maria Island National Park, and can he confirm that the existing RAA process will be applied to that proposal as well?
Madam SPEAKER - I ask the minister to be relevant, thank you.
Mr GUTWEIN - There was a lot more to this question than just that.
Madam SPEAKER - I accept that. As the member knows, I cannot put words in your mouth.
Mr GUTWEIN - I will see seek some advice on that and I will respond to the member once I have that advice.
I want to make the point that the member needs to be called out on this. I want to ask the question: were you aware that the Hacketts have had death threats?
Ms O'Connor - No, I wasn't and if you are going to try to blame us for that when there is an upwelling of concern in the community -
Mr GUTWEIN - There were death threats made against the Hacketts. Mr Hackett stated that publicly back in June and it surprises me that the member would attend a Wilderness Society public meeting. To quote what she said in October - and I find it difficult to believe she is not aware of what the Hacketts have said regarding the persecution and the threats that have been made - 'I think it is really worthwhile placing pressure on the proponents'. A young Tasmanian family who have had death threats -
Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker, the Minister for Environment, Parks and Heritage is treading on some dangerous territory here, trying to accuse us of whipping up fear and loathing. I take offence when he connects any threats that have been made to a proponent to our advocacy for public protected areas.
Madam SPEAKER - What was your point of order?
Ms O'CONNOR - I take offence. I ask him to withdraw the imputation that we are responsible.
Madam SPEAKER - It is a bit of a long bow.
Mr GUTWEIN - Madam Speaker, I did not say that they were responsible. I asked if she was aware that the Hacketts had made it perfectly clear that they had had death threats, that they were being unmercifully persecuted through this process. If a leader in the community, somebody whose voice is listened to, is to go on a podcast of a public meeting, which was livestreamed on YouTube, as I understand it, and encourage people to put pressure on the proponents, the member for Clark needs to accept that some people will take heed of what she says. In an environment like this that is highly charged, when a young family have had death threats made against them, for her to continue with that call for persecution is beyond the pale.
Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker. The minister is being offensive now. He is deflecting from the question. There is no persecution here. Placing pressure on proponents who are part of a corrupted process -
Madam SPEAKER - You are not making a point of order but this is a very relevant thing for this whole House to think about. Language matters, as Ms O'Byrne often tells us, and we need to be mindful of our actions in this House and outside this House. I am going to allow the Treasurer to proceed.
Ms O'Connor - If he would just answer the question.
Mr GUTWEIN - I have answered the question.
Ms O'Connor - No, you haven't.
Mr GUTWEIN - I said that what I would do is seek advice and I would come back to the member at an appropriate time.
The point is about language and language does matter. We have a young Tasmanian family going through a process at a state and federal level, doing everything that is required -
Dr Woodruff - You are making them out as victims. They have been given this public land for nothing.
Madam SPEAKER - Order, Dr Woodruff. This is the end of this. I know it is an emotive argument but I am not going to put up with this constant interjection. When a question has been asked the speaker has the right to answer it.
Mr GUTWEIN - Madam Speaker, I call on the member for Clark and the Wilderness Society to ensure that they take heed of the fact that there are people who will listen to what they say, who will take action that they deem to be appropriate and, in the past, that has led to death threats against this family. The member for Clark, in terms of the language that she uses in this place and the arguments that she places and what she has said publicly that has been livestreamed in terms of putting pressure on the proponent, which is a young Tasmanian family, is beyond the pale and she should be called out on it.