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Adjournment - Privatisation of Hall's Island

Parliamentary Activity - Tuesday, 26 November 2019, Cassy O'Connor MP


Privatisation of Hall's Island: Cassy O'Connor MP, 26 November, 2019

 

Ms O'CONNOR (Clark - Leader of the Greens) - Madam Deputy Speaker, I want to talk about a place that is dear to fly-fishers, to bushwalkers and to conservationists and which has been privatised, that is Halls Island and Lake Malbena, and Reg Hall's hut. We are talking here about a public hut on a public island on public land which has been privatised.

I have here a letter from the general manager of the Parks and Wildlife Service, Mr Jason Jacobi to Mr Nicholas Sawyer from the Tasmanian National Parks Association, which takes us through some of the history of these two leases that were gifted to Daniel Hackett. The first lease was a temporary non-commercial lease over Reg Hall's hut in 1957. In 1980, according to this letter, a family member of the licensee took over this agreement. The licensee then agreed for the current agreement holder to take up the licence and use of the hut in 2016.

Daniel Hackett has been given two leases: one over the hut, and one over the entirety of Halls Island at Lake Malbena inside the Walls of Jerusalem National Park in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. Mr Jacobi says:

I am advised that the agreement holder is currently working to enable organised public access to the non-commercial lease area, being the hut. The commercial lease over the remainder of the island is contingent on the development obtaining all necessary approvals. If those approvals are secured the lease affords the operator exclusive use.

That is privatisation. What do we have on Halls Island at the moment? What we have on Halls Island is a camera set up in the trees. There is a picture of the camera. Are there any other such cameras in Tasmania's protected areas? Of course, the explanation from the minister's office is that cameras have been installed on the island to monitor and manage the natural values. I call that rubbish. That is rubbish. Are there any cameras anywhere else in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area managing natural values in that manner? What is this? This is a motorboat that is parked in Lake Malbena near Halls Island. For Hansard purposes I am describing an actual motorboat that is covered in plastic that has clearly been choppered in to Halls Island.

Mr Ferguson - It is called a boat cover.

Ms O'CONNOR - There is a boat under there, Mr Ferguson, but if you want to deflect you go right ahead.

What we have now is an island that has been gifted to a single private proponent. We do not know the lease arrangements because they are not public but we know that each of these leases was transferred for the cost of $1 and we know that the lease fee is - and I read now from the Crown licence letter:

In the interim the original rental is still payable. Please find attached an invoice for the rental owing from 1 September 2016 to 31 August 2017, totalling -

The figure is redacted but definitely not more than a three-figure sum.

On 7 and 8 December this year, people who love Halls Island, people who have been going there for generations for the quiet enjoyment of Tasmania's wilderness and a bit of fly fishing, want to go in reclaim Malbena, and around 400 people have apparently signed up to go into there to reclaim Halls Island in Lake Malbena. They have written to Parks about it and what a surprise, Parks has said, 'Well, we're not going to give you permission to go to Halls Island and you'll have to talk to the lessee, Mr Daniel Hackett'. Now we have to get permission from a private operator to go into our own national park to an island that has been fished by people for generations and where bushwalkers have been going for decades. Now we have to get permission from Mr Daniel Hackett, who was gifted a lease over the entire island.

If the minister for Parks wants to understand why people are so furious with him, including many Liberal voters, he needs to have a think about that. The Parks and Wildlife Service is saying to the people who own that place, and this includes Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Tasmanians, 'No, you can't go there without Mr Hackett's permission' inside the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. That is a scandal.

We want to know why there is a boat now parked at Halls Island. We want the minister to understand that when his agency says to bushwalkers and flyfishers, 'Go and ask Mr Hackett for permission', that is completely unacceptable. In the Parks correspondence they talk about a lease arrangement but we do not get to see the leases, do we? No, because it was all stitched up behind closed doors through the Office of the Coordinator-General. where this one person and one company, Wild Drake Pty Ltd, has been gifted a heritage hut and an island in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.

That is not bad work if you can get it, if you can front up to this Government and say, 'I've got an idea for a public place', and they just gift it to as they have gifted the Bruny Island Lighthouse.

Shame on them. Halls Island belongs to the people. The Walls of Jerusalem National Park belongs to the people, as does the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. This theft of our common wealth will not stand because the constituency that is furious about this privatisation of public assets is growing by the day and people who are furious about degradation of wilderness values grows exponentially with it.