Cassy O'Connor MP | Greens Leader and Parks spokesperson
With the Federal Liberals splashing public money on unapproved private developments in Tasmania's reserves, questions need to be answered about an apparent perversion of process and their priorities.
Private interests, among them the Farrell family, are the beneficiaries of $22 million in public funding being promised by the Liberals to shore up their Northern seats.
One potential beneficiary is the proposed Freycinet Lodge extension further into the Freycinet National Park.
ASIC documents reveal Destinations Property Pty Ltd, which holds the lease at Freycinet, is 50% owned by the Farrells who are - according to the BRW Rich List - the 29th richest family in Australia with RACT owning the other half.
As half owners of the Freycinet lease, the Farrell family would be likely to benefit financially from an expanded Lodge and lease.
Neither the proposed extension into Freycinet National Park nor another beneficiary, the Bernacchi Lodge upgrade in the TWWHA, have been through proper public consultation and we have no idea if an environmental assessment has been done.
The proposed Freycinet Lodge extension is still before the Tasmanian Planning Commission. The current Freycinet National Park Management Plan prohibits the proposed development.
This process is thoroughly rotten. There has been no transparency in relation to this Liberal splurge of funds which are the promised, unspent Cadbury dollars from 2013. Prior to that, it was the money allocated for industry transition under the Tasmanian Forest Agreement.
Public funds should be used for public benefit.
There are critical infrastructure projects that require funding, including Launceston's dilapidated water and sewerage system which regularly spills raw sewage into the Tamar, and the pressing need for public transport infrastructure in Hobart.
The state of visitor infrastructure also desperately needs attention, with reports of tourists defecating on our beautiful beaches due to the lack of public toilets.
The Liberals have got their priorities all wrong, to Tasmania's detriment.
Rather than handing out public money to private interests, the Liberals should be committing to investing capital dollars into improving public infrastructure in Tasmania.