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Murky Parks Privatisation in Freycinet National Park

Vica Bayley MP

Vica Bayley MP  -  Wednesday, 13 September 2023

Tags: National Parks, Parks, Parks EOIs, Public Land

The Liberal Government appears to have not learnt a thing from years of turmoil stirred up by the toxic privatisation of parks policy.
Following revelations that a Development Application (DA) has been lodged with the Glamorgan-Spring Bay Council for standing camp developments inside Freycinet National Park at Cooks Corner and Bluestone Bay in Parliament today we asked whether a Reserve Activity Assessment (RAA) had been completed.
We also asked why a development should be considered at Cooks Corner at all, considering the 2019 Freycinet Master Plan clearly states:
“Maintenance of the current intensity of commercial day-based operations south of the Hazards in the Freycinet National Park, with no further built tourism infrastructure”.
Minister Jaensch could not provide an clear answer on the RAA and refused to acknowledge the 2019 Master Plan.
The Minister cites the existence of an historic lease and license, not used in 18 years, as sufficient requirement to tick and flick assessment of the Cooks Corner development.
The trouble with lease and license arrangements in national parks is that they are secret. The Greens have long requested these be made publicly available – Parks have failed to deliver.
The Freycinet Master Plan (2019) contains the guiding principles for contemporary management within the park in lieu of a long overdue revised management plan.
The DA with council states that Parks have deemed an RAA is not required – however the RAA Process Overview document states the reasons an RAA may not be required include;

  1. Is small scale – The Cooks Corner site is a significant 3400 m2.
  2. Has no environmental impact – A large area is impacted by hundreds of people for seven months of the year.
  3. Is consistent with management objectives – Management objectives state there should be “no further built tourism infrastructure”.
  4. Is of low public interest – Since the DA has appeared, the public are very interested.
  5. Does not require control mechanisms – Any development of this scale and patronage requires control mechanisms.
  6. Leaves no residual impact – Five months of non-activity on the site does not leave time for remediation.

On all measures an RAA should be used for assessment, and a permit refused.
Furthermore as an “exclusive lease” this development should be assessed as a Level 3 RAA, a process that involves community consultation.
Additionally, nowhere in the DA for this “standing camp” is there mention of the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Services Standing Camp Policy 2021, or if this project has been assessed against that.
Once again we find an opaque process to assess development over treasured public land where business interests receive special treatment, while ordinary Tasmanians are kept in the dark.
Freycinet National Park, Tasmania’s oldest national park, is treasured by Tasmanians of all walks of life, and they are furious they are kept in the dark about how their park is managed, until the eleventh hour.
The Tasmanian Greens will always stand up to protect the natural and cultural values of our special places, even if the Parks and Wildlife Service won’t.