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Greens Table Legislation to Improve Transparency on Public Protected Areas

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Thursday, 1 July 2021

Tags: Right to Information, Transparency, Parks, National Parks, Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, Parks EOIs

Greens Table Legislation to Improve Transparency on Public Protected Areas

The Greens tabled the Right to Information (Public Protected Areas) Amendment Bill 2021 in Parliament today.

Our Bill improves transparency over proposed developments and land use proposals in Parks and reserves. It ensures the Liberals can’t hide behind ‘commercial in confidence’ to refuse to release information about commercial developments on protected public lands.

Currently, the Right to Information Act allows for exemptions (subject to the ‘public interest test’) for a range of reasons. 

Since they came to government, the Liberals have misused the ‘commercial in confidence’ provisions within the RTI Act as a shield to deflect scrutiny of development in protected areas. This has, rightly, angered Tasmanians of all political persuasions, and is entirely contradictory to any fair reading of the Act. 

Information related to a proposed development or use of public protected areas is always in the public interest. Tasmanians have a right to know what this government is stitching up for developers for their National Parks and reserves. 

Our Right to Information Amendment (Public Protected Areas) Bill 2021 will make some exemptions in the Act not apply to public protected areas, such as information relating to business affairs of a public authority or third party, information on procedures and criteria used in certain negotiations of a public authority, and information communicated by other jurisdictions. 

As responsible legislators, the Greens have considered all aspects of the Act in drafting our Amendment Bill, and recognise a wholesale circumvention of all exemptions is not appropriate.

We acknowledge that information specifically related to the personal information of a person should remain exempt (subject to the public interest test) for privacy reasons, and exemptions (subject to the public interest test) for information likely to affect cultural, heritage, and natural resources of the State should remain for the sake of protecting these important values. 

The Liberals’ EOI process and their opacity on public protected areas has been undermining our brand, and eroding the Tasmanian people’s faith in government accountability for far too long. 

It’s time to stop the secrecy about publicly-owned National Parks and reserves, and to give the Tasmanian people the transparency they deserve. That’s exactly what our Bill will do.

You can read our Bill here -