Cassy O'Connor MP | Greens Leader and State Prosperity spokesperson
It was disappointing today to have Minister Groom decline to explain the Net Public Benefit test his department uses to determine whether a tourism proposal should be supported by government.
It's sadly ironic that an assessment of public benefit is made but the public aren't told the results.
Unfortunately, this is a recurring theme of the Hodgman Government where Ministers think themselves unaccountable for the expenditure of public money in their portfolios, refusing to answer questions and hiding behind Dorothy Dix questions from Liberal backbenchers.
What the Minister said was that he and his department know what is good for the community better than the community themselves. It's a belief that a Liberal Government knows best. It's a very dangerous and undemocratic path for government to tread.
The results of the Public Net Benefit determines whether proponents are granted access to public land and, in some cases, are granted public funds to further their private developments.
Minister Groom needs constant reminding that Tasmania's protected areas are not his personal plaything. They were set aside for the protection of their natural and cultural values, not for exploitation by a selected few commercial interests and beyond the reach of public scrutiny.
The Coordinator General's website states Principle 2 of its assessment is as follows: "Proposed Developments should offer unique, innovative and enhanced visitor experiences and provide a net public benefit.*
The Greens believe Tasmanians are better served by genuine eco tourism, low impact public infrastructure and accommodation in towns and regions outside protected areas, with a well resourced Parks and Wildlife Service to manage these public lands.
At the moment, the Expressions of Interest process is all about secrecy, giving exclusive access to exploit to a select few developers who are targeting a wealthy market, not everyday Tasmanians.
This is an attempted lock up of Tasmania's protected areas for those who can afford to pay for the Liberals' exclusive commercial developments in areas where they are currently prohibited under the World Heritage Area Management Plan.