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Adjournment - Lake Malbena

Parliamentary Activity - Tuesday, 27 November 2018, Cassy O'Connor MP


Ms O'CONNOR (Clark - Leader of the Greens) - Madam Speaker, I rise to seek the leave of the House to table the submissions that were released under the Freedom of Information Act federally. These are the submissions on the proposal to allow for luxury huts and up to a 120 or more helicopter flights and landings each year at Halls Island, Lake Malbena in the World Heritage Area.

I gave the documents previously to the Leader of Government Business in the House and the Leader of Opposition Business in the House some hours ago, given how weighty the documents are. As I understand it, I have the approval of both two table the documents.

Leave granted.

Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you, Madam Speaker. I want to update other members - all of whom were not at Town Hall today, with the exception of Dr Woodruff- on the very successful Keep Tassie Wild rally, which was attended by people from all walks of life. They were brought to Town Hall out of a deep love for the Tasmanian wilderness, an absolute determination to see it protected and remain publicly accessible to all Tasmanians.

It is fair to say as I stood on the stage and looked across the crowd in a packed town hall that there were many new faces there. I am certain that the people who attended Town Hall today are not your classic small 'g' greenies but most the wilderness holds a special place in their hearts.

The submissions that are now on the table have been made by respected organisations that have been comprehensively ignored by the state Liberal Government and then by the federal government in its approval of the Lake Malbena proposal. These submissions include: damning submissions from the Aboriginal Heritage Council concerned about 8000-year-old petroglyphs that the proponent of the Halls Island project would like to take his visitors in to see; and the National Parks and Wildlife Advisory Council which advises both state and federal Liberal governments against approving the development because of its impacts on matters of national significance including its impact on wilderness and cultural heritage values. There are also submissions from the Circular Head Walking Club, the Tasmanian North West Fishing Association, the Anglers Alliance of Tasmania, Tasmanian Professional Guides Association, the Pandani Bush Walking Club, the Tasmania Fly Tyers' Club, the Southern Tasmanian Licensed Anglers Association, Tasmanian National Parks Association, North West Walking Club, Bushwalking Tasmania, Hobart Walking Club, Bird Life Tasmania, Friends of the Great Western Tiers, the Environmental Defenders Office, the Wilderness Society, the Tasmanian Conservation Trust and the Tasmanian Land Conservancy.

The opposition to this proposal is overwhelmingly strong. It comes from the broadest possible cross-section of the Tasmanian community. It is fact that you do not have to be a greenie to love the wilderness, you just have to be a Tasmanian. The reason people came in such numbers to Town Hall today was out of an intense feeling of frustration and anger at not being heard. They are angry at being locked out and ignored through a process which began three years ago under this Government's opaque expressions of interest process. They are angry and frustrated because they have witnessed a wholly corrupted process that shuts out public input and happens behind closed doors. They are angry because state and federal Liberal governments have ignored the evidence of the National Parks and Wildlife Advisory Council, the Heritage Council, the Aboriginal Heritage Council and so many other recreational users of the TWA. They are angry because both levels of government have been ignoring the voices of Tasmanians who have longed loved and enjoyed the place and who recognise that this proposal is the thin edge of the wedge.

A number of excellent speakers came along today. One of them was a mathematician and wilderness expert, Martin Hawes who yesterday released, along with the Wilderness Society, his Lake Malbena wilderness assessment. It is important to remember that Martin Hawes was commissioned by the Tasmanian Government on two previous occasions to map the wilderness qualities of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. Martin Hawes knows what he is talking about. He found, using a universally accepted methodology for understanding impacts on wilderness, that if the Lake Malbena proposal goes ahead that the wilderness values of Lake Malbena and its surrounds in the Walls of Jerusalem National Park will be all but lost.

For anyone who is interested - unfortunately, on neither side of the House does there seem to be much interest, although I did see the Attorney-General showing some interest - when you have mechanised access at the scale that this Government has approved of 120 or more helicopter flights and landings a year, you lose wilderness completely. That is why the Anglers Alliance, recreational fishers and bushwalkers are so frustrated.

I will leave the House with a definition of wilderness from the compromised World Heritage Area Management Plan, which talks about wilderness but takes no steps to protect it.

It is an area of sufficient size, remoteness and naturalness to enable the long-term integrity of its natural systems, diversity and processes, the maintenance of cultural landscapes and the provision of a wilderness recreational experience.

All of it placed under threat by this Government.