Cassy O'Connor MP | Greens Leader and Parks spokesperson
In GBE Estimates today, the Greens questioned Parks Minister Gutwein about yet another secretive Expressions of Interest project in a protected area and the apparent expenditure of public monies to enable it.
A proposal to build commercial accommodation at the Darlington World Heritage convict site on Maria Island appeared on the Office of the Coordinator General’s website* on 22 November, yet it’s clear from Minister Gutwein’s response to Greens’ questions today that the proposal was first put forward when Matthew Groom was Minister.
Mr Ian Johnstone’s proposal is to construct permanent commercial accommodation on a World Heritage convict site. Not only are the Liberals handing out exclusive leases to favoured developers, it appears as though building applications are now available.
It took three years for this proposal to be made public. In the interim, $1.8 million was allocated in the 2017-18 State Budget towards the, ‘restoration … of the Darlington site and to provide substantial improvement to the visitor services’.
This smells very much like the allocation of public monies to enable a private commercial development in the World Heritage convict site, not unlike the decision to upgrade the road and carpark prior to announcing a private development at the Bruny Lighthouse.
The 1998 Maria Island Management Plan would seem to preclude the kind of development Mr Ian Johnstone is proposing for this World Heritage site.
The question is – will the Liberals do what they did to enable the Lake Malbena and other commercial developments in the TWWHA, at Narawntapu National Park, Freycinet National Park etc, by rewriting the Management Plan to facilitate this private development on public lands?