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Parks – Filming on Reserved Lands

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Wednesday, 7 June 2023

Tags: Parks, State Budget

Ms O'CONNOR - Okay. Minister, I'm interested to understand the process around how the applications for filming on reserved lands takes place. Perhaps we can start with how many filming or footage applications for commercial uses of reserved land does Parks and Wildlife receive each year, on average?

Mr JAENSCH - When you say commercial?

Ms O'CONNOR - Commercial uses - someone who is making a commercial documentary. I'd argue someone who is an influencer who is using a drone potentially illegally over the parks to earn income, that’s a commercial use, but you know what I mean. Programs, documentaries. The use of footage to get vision of the reserved lands which require a permit and, as I understand it, need to be approved by either yourself or the director.

Mr JAENSCH - I understand Ms Ross might be able to talk us through the process, on how the decisions are made; I think that's where you're going?

Ms O'CONNOR - Isn't the director the managing authority?

Mr JAENSCH - Can we ask Ms Ross to explain it to us?

Ms ROSS - We process about 375 lease and licences through MBTI operators a year. They are not all filming applications, that is within that number. I do not have the exact number. The process is that those applications come in and we assess them. They go out to the region in case there is any conflict and the approvals are made. For those organisations that we partner with, such as Tourism Tasmania and Brand Tasmania, we waive the fee for processing because there is a greater benefit to the state for those applications to be processed.

Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you. I'm trying to understand where the authority lies, which I think under the National Parks and Reserves Management Act, lies with either the minister or the director.

Mr JAENSCH - Or is one delegated to the other?

Ms O'CONNOR - Yes, that's right. How are these applications assessed by Parks and what considerations are taken into account by the director or minister in determining approval for the issue of a business licence? And, how long on average does it take Parks to approve commercial filming and drone use?

Ms ROSS - We have a 21-day turnaround time for applications for filming to come in through the process. We can generally turn those around quicker if they don't include drones. Drones do take a much more thorough assessment process - particularly if there's breeding season and those factors at play in the assessment. If it is handheld video filming, those applications are often turned around fairly quickly, within a couple of days.

Ms O'CONNOR - Can I go back to the original question, I am just trying to understand how many applications there are for filming or drone licences. For the purposes of this question, they are the same thing. In a given year, on average?

Ms ROSS - It ebbs and flows. I don't have a whole year number. As I said, we process about 375 nature-based applications over the course of the year. The filming permits are within that total. When there are major events like Australian Tourism Exchange, where Tourism Tasmania is hosting a number of media, those applications come in more regularly, and there can be up to several in a certain week or month, but there is no consistency across the volume.

Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you for that. In terms of the delegation and the impact on Parks resources, are each of those applications approved by the Director of Parks?

Mr JAENSCH - I'm happy for you to answer that.

Mr JACOBI - They're typically delegated down to sometimes the regional manager level, if not to the deputy secretary.

Ms O'CONNOR - The minister may, under the National Parks and Reserves Management Act, delegate the power that you have to the managing authority and under the act it's defined as being 'the director'. The minister may delegate to any person any of his or her functions or power under this act other than this power of delegation. Minister, have you delegated the approvals process for filming inside reserved lands, because the only person who can delegate under the act, as far as we can interpret, is you but it sounds like the director is delegating down?

Mr JAENSCH - Thank you for your interpretation of that. I don't have my own in front of me to respond to you with. I'd be happy to take some advice on that and then I'd be able to answer your question.

Ms O'CONNOR - The secretary should know the answer to that question. We're trying to understand if it’s a properly delegated authority.

Mr JAENSCH - I will get myself informed on that.

CHAIR - Leader of the Opposition.

Ms O'CONNOR - With respect, Chair, perhaps, Mr Jacobi could answer the question. When you said you'd get some advice on that - the advice is sitting next to you.

Mr JAENSCH - I don't know what you're able to provide at the table or if it's something you take on notice.

Ms O'CONNOR - The question to you, minister, is have you delegated the authority to approve filming and drone licences to someone other than the director?

Mr JAENSCH - Incoming minister processes involve a wide range of delegations taking place. Without all of that material in front of me, I can't give a definitive answer to your question -

Ms O'CONNOR - Mr Jacobi can.

Mr JAENSCH - which I am sure that you have been very careful to phrase -

Ms O'CONNOR - Mr Jacobi can.

Mr JAENSCH - so I'm going to be very careful in how I respond to it. I'd be happy to take your question on notice if that's what it involves.

Ms O'CONNOR - I'm concerned that there's an unlawful delegation for the approval of lease and licences, film licences, drones, in reserved lands.

Mr JAENSCH - I thought you were talking about filming -

Ms O'CONNOR - But we heard before that's all within a lease and licence assessment framework.

Mr JAENSCH - I think Mr Joscelyne might be able to shed some light.

Mr JOSCELYNE - As always, it's not straightforward. There are two ways that approval, for example, a drone, can be authorised. It could be through a licence but it could also be through a grant of authority which is where a decision is made by a delegated officer in relation to the National Parks and Wildlife Regulations 2019. From time to time we'll get requests for these kinds of activities. They could also be approved by authority -

Ms O'CONNOR - Where's the head of power for that - the section in the act where that head of authority lies?

Mr JOSCELYNE - Can you restate that?

Ms O'CONNOR – Where's the head of power for the approval of these requests outside the provisions of the National Parks and Reserves Management Act, which makes it clear only the minister can delegate that authority?

Mr JOSCELYNE - There are various provisions of regulations. There are instruments of delegation in relation to what would otherwise be an offence under the act. There's a range of offences under the act that are essentially described in the regulations -

Ms O'CONNOR - Is there a regulation that applies to this that makes those approvals lawful?

Mr JOSCELYNE - By a grant of authority they would not be an offence. It may well be advantageous if we seek the delegations as well that relate to commercial filming which is actually classified as a 'business licence' for the purpose of the act.

Ms O'CONNOR - That's right.

Mr JOSCELYNE - There is not a specific type of licence called a 'commercial filming licence'.

Ms O'CONNOR - That's right.

Mr JAENSCH - Ms O'Connor, if you would like to put a question on notice in writing in relation to these matters, we can get some clarification for you.

Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you.