Ms O'CONNOR question to MINISTER for PARKS, Mr HODGMAN
Despite your Government's best endeavours to date to stall our Right to Information application, we have a leaked copy of the National Parks and Wildlife Advisory Council submission to the federal government on the proposal to build permanent luxury huts and allow up to 120 helicopter flights and landings at Lake Malbena in the Walls of Jerusalem. The National Parks and Wildlife Advisory Council is a key advisor under law to you as minister on developments in protected areas. This advice is clear that, like the fly fishers and other recreational users of the Walls of Jerusalem, your key advisory council does not support this expression of interest proposal. On 30 July this year it told the federal government -
NPWAC does not support this project progressing at this time and reiterates that contentious projects such as this should not be considered until there is an agreed framework to guide assessment.
Your federal colleagues approved it. Can you confirm the NPWAC gave you exactly the same advice and it was also ignored in approving this highly contentious development?
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Clark for the question. First, I categorically reject any assertion of any interference by me, my office or any ministerial officers in relation to Right to Information processes. They are appropriately handled by independent officers and assessed independently in accordance with the relevant legislation.
Second, in relation to the advice received concerning the Lake Malbena proposal, it is true to say there are varying views on this project. It is certainly one that has invited views from across the spectrum and has been subject to a most robust assessment process. It is important for members in this place and indeed the broader community to understand what this proposal has been through by way of assessment. It was one of the proposals that came forward through the expressions of interest initiative we opened up to explore potential sustainable, sensible ecotourism developments in our wilderness areas.
Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker. At risk of tedious repetition, this is a relevance issue. I ask the Premier, does he have the same advice on the state approval process from his key advisory council on Parks?
Madam SPEAKER - Thank you. I have to disallow that but I will ask the Premier to address the question, please.
Mr HODGMAN - I am certainly going through each of the pertinent issues here with respect to this proposal and the assessment processes it has been through. That is a better way of approaching this rather than picking and choosing what suits those who are opposed to sensible and sustainable development in our parks, reserves and Crown lands.
Proposals undergo a rigorous assessment process and any proposal that is recommended to proceed is then required to go through requisite Commonwealth and state planning and approvals processes. One of the proposals under consideration and assessment is this Halls Island/Lake Malbena project, designed to develop a standing camp accommodation on this island in the TWWHA. The proposal has been publicly available on the website of the Office of the Coordinator-General since 2015. It has been in the planning and assessment phase for a number of years.
Helicopters are proposed to transport guests to and from the eastern edge of the lake adjacent to the island. The TWWHA management plan of 2016 allows for helicopter landings and take-offs from Halls Island on Lake Malbena. The plan was approved by the Commonwealth and accepted by the World Heritage Committee following broad community consultation. The Lake Malbena proposal, the TWWHA management plan and the federal government EPBC process that allow for the proposal's approval and progression to date have all -
Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker. For the second time, the Premier is not answering the question. Did he get the same advice for the state approval process from his key advisory council?
Madam SPEAKER - I cannot accept that as a point of order but I can ask the Premier to continue speaking, and I think he believes he is addressing the question.
Mr HODGMAN - I certainly am, Madam Speaker. I made the point with respect to advice received and views and input available to anyone with an interest due to the extensive consultation and rigorous processes this proposal has been subject to, which I am outlining. They are pertinent to that very point. The proposal, through the TWWHA management plan and federal government EPBC process, which have allowed for the proposal's approval and progression to date, have all been subject to extensive public consultation. Parks and Wildlife has been working with the proponents on this matter for over a year. It is a sensitive and appropriate development at the site, which ensures impacts can be mitigated or avoided as part of the assessment process.
Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker. I believe the Premier has misled the House.
Mr Hodgman - You just do not want to know the truth.
Madam SPEAKER - I am sorry, that is a very serious accusation.
Ms O'CONNOR - That is right and I ask him to clarify it. He said this project has been through extensive consultation. It has not.
Mr FERGUSON - Madam Speaker, on the point of order, the member has not raised a point of order. What she has just said can only be put forward in a substantive motion.
Ms O'CONNOR - Well, it might be coming. The Premier is being misleading.
Madam SPEAKER - I am going to uphold that point of order because those accusations can only be made in a substantive motions. I urge you to refrain from doing that again. Thank you.
Mr HODGMAN - Thank you, Madam Speaker. I was asked specifically about the advice I have received in relation to this matter. When I provide that advice to the member for Clark, she takes exception to hearing it because it does not suit her. There has been a voluntary referral of this proposal to the Australian Government under the EPBC act. That was a voluntary move taken by the proponents and it requires further process. There is public consultation. The Commonwealth Department of Environment and Energy has determined that the project is not a controlled action under the EPBC. It has been assessed by the national authorities and it means the project can proceed on that basis. It has not been found to pose a threat to matters of national environmental significance. Now that the EPBC process is complete, the proponent may progress the development application to the local council and following that process. If the development application is successful, the Parks and Wildlife Service can finalise the reserve activity assessment.
Ms O'Connor - Of course it will be. It's a tick and flick now, isn't it? It's a permitted use.
Madam SPEAKER - Ms O'Connor, I give you a first warning.
Mr HODGMAN - I make those points to point to the fact this proposal has been the subject of extensive process and consultation. I know there are people in the community, including the Greens, who will not be supportive of projects like this that continue to keep Tasmania at the front of the pack in the ecotourism space. There will be those who express that negative view to me, but when you consider objectively the lengthy processes this has been through at a state and Commonwealth level, in my view that should give Tasmanians confidence that this is one of those projects that will make Tasmania the ecotourism capital of the world that we should be.