You are here

Parks – Jason Jacobi Contract Renewal

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Thursday, 9 June 2022

Tags: Parks, Public Service

Ms O'CONNOR - This is a slightly awkward question because the person I am going to ask you a question about is sitting at the table. Since Mr Jacobi came to leave the Parks and Wildlife Service, it is reported to us - and on a semi-regular basis, I have to say - there has been a high level of dissatisfaction from staff, tourism operators and the general public in both his performance, his communication and the direction the Parks service has taken. Can you confirm you are aware of this range of concerns from a range of stakeholders and can you outline why his contract was extended despite this disquiet and give us some details of that contract renewal?

Mrs PETRUSMA - I can honestly say, Ms O'Connor, since the time I have been in this position, since May last year, I have not had raised with me what you have outlined -

Ms O'CONNOR - That is interesting -

Mrs PETRUSMA - I would be interested to hear about what you have to say in regards to that. I have not had anything raised with me. In fact, I have had the opposite. I have had many people say that Mr Jacobi has been doing an outstanding job in Parks.

Ms O'CONNOR - Would that be the developers that you work with?

Mrs PETRUSMA - No, this is from the Parks staff. This is when I am out and about, because I go visiting our parks, talk to rangers. Whether it is at the Tarn, whether it is at Cradle Mountain, whether it is the staff down the Huon Valley. I have had lots of positive feedback. I am not sure what sort of feedback you have had, but I want to applaud him for his commitment and his passion to actually make sure that Tasmania's parks and reserves are in better condition in the future, than what they are today.

Ms O'CONNOR - They will not be, if you keep up the EOI process. Anyway, we must talk to different people, because that is certainly what we hear.

I want to take you to a meeting that you had with some stakeholders in relation to the Lake Malbena proposal. Mr Jacobi gave some advice, and material, information - using Parks and Wildlife resources - to the developer, Mr Hackett in that instance, whose proposal would degrade the natural values of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA). At the meeting that you were at, with your former adviser, Mr Helmich, a request was made that the stakeholder organisation could have access to the same information as the developer. I understand at that meeting, Mr Helmick and yourself agreed that that information could be passed on.

Later, under Mr Jacobi, that information, which you as minister had agreed could be passed on, was denied to that stakeholder organisation.

Mrs PETRUSMA - This is in regards to the Public Access Program?

Ms O'CONNOR - This is in regard to the public access program to Lake Malbena. I do not know if it is in regard to a specific program.

Mrs PETRUSMA - I was asked about information with regard to the Public Access Program which, I believe, was provided.

Ms O'CONNOR - No, it was a meeting of the Fishers & Walkers group, at which they asked for the same information that Mr Jacobi had given the developer. You as minister had said yes, Mr Helmick said yes.

Mrs PETRUSMA - There is lots of information available on the public record, so which information are they specifically wanting?

Ms O'CONNOR - It related to the advice to the federal government under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

Mrs PETRUSMA - I believe, if is information in regards to the EPBC, that would be just flight access, and that is already publicly available. It is publicly out there. That is available.

Ms O'CONNOR - We might have to follow that up with you with in correspondence, because my understanding from the stakeholder organisation is that they were told it was not available.

Mrs PETRUSMA - In regard to the flight access, I think it is available.

Ms O'CONNOR - It was about the EPBC process, and my understanding is that the organisation was told to put out a Right to Information request to access the same information that had been given to the proponent.

Mrs PETRUSMA - If it was in regard to flight access, that is publicly available.

Ms O'CONNOR - No it is not. This is information that Fishers & Walkers were told by your secretary, acting secretary - or the secretary of Parks - that they would have to do a Right to Information request to get this information which was given to Mr Hackett, about the EPBC process. So Mr Jacobi is saying he does not know anything about it, and we have -

Mrs PETRUSMA - No, the flight access information is publicly available.

Ms O'CONNOR - This is not about information that is publicly available. It is about information that was to go off to the Commonwealth, that had been given to the proponent. I can see we are not going to get anywhere, and I will follow that up with you in correspondence.

Can you confirm Mr Jacobi is the subject of an internal investigation?

Mrs PETRUSMA - I would not know about an internal investigation, so I cannot confirm.

Ms O'CONNOR - Who would know that?

Mrs PETRUSMA - It depends who would be running the internal investigation, so -

Ms O'CONNOR - As minister?

Mrs PETRUSMA - If it is a departmental investigation, as you know from being a minster yourself, those investigations are done at arms-length from ministers.

Ms O'CONNOR - If there was investigation into your secretary?

Ms O'BYRNE - You would know if there was an ED5, though.

CHAIR - Order, Ms O'Byrne.

Mrs PETRUSMA - No. I have not been informed of any ED5.