Ms O'CONNOR question to MINISTER for ENVIRONMENT and PARKS, Mr JAENSCH
On Thursday, federal Environment minister Sussan Ley announced that the heli-tourism proposal for Halls Island at Lake Malbena will be assessed under the EPBC Act as a controlled action. This is five years since your predecessor signed the proposal to lease and licence without public consultation. Ms Ley's hand was forced by a federal court decision which found her initial decision that the proposal was not a controlled action under the act was wrong. Her original decision was based in part on the advice in a level 3 reserve activity assessment prepared by the Parks and Wildlife Service which recommended the Lake Malbena application be split in two in order to avoid full EPBC assessment and therefore proper public consultation.
Do you agree that if Parks had done the right thing initially, the Lake Malbena proposal would have gone to full EPBC assessment as a level 4 RAA? How do you explain the once-great Parks and Wildlife Service bending over backwards to avoid a proper Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act assessment and to assist a private developer?
Do you accept there has been a loss of public confidence in the Parks service as a result of your Government's EOI process for development in protected areas?
Madam Speaker, I thank the Leader of the Greens for her question. I note that the Halls Island, Lake Malbena, proposal has been called in for further assessment by the Commonwealth. I am also aware that the proponent has welcomed that news and is ready to have their proposal assessed, yet again, at another level, because they believe they can make it work.
Ms O'Connor - Irrelevant. Why are you talking about the developer and not the place or Parks?
Madam SPEAKER - Order.
Mr JAENSCH - They believe it is a good proposal and they believe it is possible for them to operate their business model in a World Heritage Area in a way that protects the values for which that area is being managed.
Ms O'Connor - People in the community are not buying this.
Madam SPEAKER - Order, Ms O'Connor.
Mr JAENSCH - I say to them, 'Good on you. Good on you for having the confidence that you can make this project work and sustain the natural values of that area and be a truly sustainable business operation'. That is what we should all be aiming to do, and that should be cheered by the Greens who promote sustainable development.
In relation to the assertion that the department has somehow done the wrong thing in the two-phased assessment, the claims the assessment was split to make it easier on the proponent are entirely false. I am advised that the adoption of a two-phased assessment approach is because stage two involves guided walks around the lake and remains speculative. It was not a fully-formed part of the initial proposal and therefore was unable to be further assessed. Accordingly, only the parts of the proposal that were known, for which there were details that were not speculative, which were not about the future, were able to be assessed, and so they will be -
Greens members interjecting.
Madam SPEAKER - Order, Ms O'Connor and Dr Woodruff.
Mr JAENSCH - and so the proponent proceeded to submit the proposal, as it was ready to go.
Ms O'Connor - On the advice of Parks.
Mr JAENSCH - Any further stages that are contemplated or proposed at a later date will be the subject of a separate assessment process so they can be given the opportunity to present the detail and it can be assessed against the management plan and all relevant environmental regulations will apply.
It is very disappointing that we have -
Ms O'Connor - You are alienating people across Tasmania on this issue.
Mr JAENSCH - such a concerted and targeted campaign by the Greens against this Tasmanian family, this Tasmanian business, that has put forward an idea and is willing to have it tested -
Ms O'Connor - Did you hear about that meeting at Miena? You gave them an island for $80 a week.
Madam SPEAKER - Order, Dr Woodruff.
Mr JAENSCH - again and again. They are confident that they have the ability to conduct this business activity, this experience in our wild areas, in a way that meets all environmental standards -
Ms O'Connor - All you have done is talk about the developers. Breathtaking.
Mr JAENSCH - that are out there to be had. They are confident enough that every time they get a new hurdle in their way -
Ms O'Connor - Do not care about the developer, we care about the place.
Mr JAENSCH - but they shape up and they are prepared to -
Ms O'Connor - What do you say to fly fishermen and the bushwalkers?
Mr JAENSCH - take the umpire's decision and put themselves forward through another stage of scrutiny. I take my hat off to them for their belief in what they are doing -
Madam SPEAKER - Order, Dr Woodruff.
Dr WOODRUFF - Point of clarification, Madam Speaker. I have not interjected. I am not sure what your -
Madam SPEAKER - I apologise profusely, but your colleague has been constantly interjecting and I have made a mistake.
Dr WOODRUFF - You have called me to order three times, it was not anything to do with me, so perhaps you were not paying attention.
Madam SPEAKER - If I have given you three warnings which you did not deserve, clearly they were meant for your colleague. That will be the last warning for your colleague.
Dr WOODRUFF - Madam Speaker, on that clarification, I did not hear any warnings. There were no warnings, Madam Speaker. Can I -
Madam SPEAKER - No, there were no warnings but there were three interjections by your party. I am sorry I used your name, that is very clear, but I do urge your colleague and I ask you to urge her, to show some restraint in this place and stop interjecting.
Dr WOODRUFF - Point of clarification, I want to understand fully that you are quite clear that there was no warning to me.
Madam SPEAKER - No, but there were three complaints. Would you just sit down. You are all grown-ups, all of you, so to stand there bickering and arguing about whether you have been warned, you have been asked politely to stop interjecting. Clearly, you are not capable of accepting that so they will be reclassified as warnings. You are not in trouble, Dr Woodruff. I urge you sit down. I am on my feet.
Ms O'Connor - You cannot reclassify, retrospectively, warnings.
Madam SPEAKER - I do not care what you think. You just sit there and listen to me speak. You have been thoroughly rude all morning. I am turning a blind eye to most of your stuff, but I am asking you now to hear the minister in silence, otherwise I might have to throw you out.
Ms O'CONNOR - On the point of order, Madam Speaker, it was very clear that I sat here in silence until our question was asked - the question I just asked - so I refute, absolutely, your assertion that I have been thoroughly rude all morning. That is not true.
Madam SPEAKER - You have been rude enough this morning. One more interjection and you are out. That is enough of a warning for a grown up.
Mr FERGUSON - Madam Speaker, on the point of order which you have ruled on, this side of the House looks forward to the rest of the answer from the minister.
Madam SPEAKER - That is what I think too.
Mr JAENSCH - Madam Speaker, I have nothing further to add.