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Parks - RAA Replacement

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Thursday, 9 September 2021

Tags: Reserve Activity Assessments, Parks EOIs, State Budget

Ms WOODRUFF - Minister, the announcement about changes to the RAA process is certainly welcome. It seems to be a pretty clear admission that the Parks process surrounding the expression of interest has been very secret, has shut people out of being able to understand and to have input into what is happening to publicly-owned wilderness areas so we are going to look at the details. I have a few questions from what you have announced.

Would the process you announced apply to existing EOI leases and licences?

Mrs PETRUSMA - Mr Baker can talk to this more in a minute. If they have not started on the Reserve Activity Assessment process at the time this new RAA is under the initial Parks and Reserves Management Act, then they have to do their RAA under the new process. But, if they have started off RAA already then, they are under the old process. You can appreciate it is a big body of to be undertaking to put the new legislation in, but it is something the department knows we have committed to starting off this process and getting it down. I will ask Mr Baker to provide more information.

Mr BAKER - The department is committed to continued improvement and we acknowledge…

Dr WOODRUFF - When pushed.

Mr BAKER - Not when pushed, at all. We are constantly looking at the processes across our department and where there is area for improvement, we will make that improvement. Unfortunately, when we start the journey of improvement in this area, we immediately get criticised for it.

Dr WOODRUFF - I asked a question, Chair. I think that is unfair. You have a very thin skin. It was just a straightforward question anyone watching would want to know, because it has been such a contested process.

Mr BAKER - The straight answer is, the RAA process has served the department well for some time. We have been in a process of continual improvement and this is just the next step in that improvement.

The second point I make is as the minister has indicated, it cannot and will not be retrospective to existing projects that have already gone or going through the RAA process. As soon as the changes take place, we will transition in the new arrangements.

Dr WOODRUFF - Thank you, minister. I do not accept it is not possible to make the information about the existing EIOs public and I do not accept it is not possible to provide for third party appeals and I do not accept it is not possible to publish leases and licences that exist.

Mrs PETRUSMA - You get third party appeals under this new process.

Dr WOODRUFF - Yes, I know but for existing EIOs. How many of them are there?

Mrs PETRUSMA - For the existing EOIs, as we know, there's only 11 in existence. There have 65, 21 have been rejected already so, it is showing the process has been working. It depends on how they started to do the RAA and when they commence the RAA. If they have not commenced their RAA when this new system comes in place they are going under this new RAA system.

Dr WOODRUFF - Can you please tell me who will on the independent assessment panel because that is an important matter. We have the National Parks and Wildlife advisory panel who provided advice in relation to Halls Island. They had serious concerns about that and were not listened to. They are independent and were not listened to so. who do you have in mind to put on as independent assessment panel?

Mrs PETRUSMA - It will be a skills-based board. There will be a skills matrix but the requirements of the board will be in legislation and when the legislation comes before parliament you will definitely be able to have your say. The bill will also be going out for consultation.

When the board makes its recommendation, if people did not take notice of that recommendation then it can be appealed, there is going to be quite a robust process put in place.

Mr BAKER - I will add a point. It is important, Dr Woodruff, we separate the EIO from the RAA. We handle literally hundreds of RAA assessments a year. This is a series of amendments that will affect all RAAs conducted, not just the RAAs that have gone through the EIO process.

The other point I make, minister, which answers the question, it is not a small piece of work, Dr Woodruff, to move to get all leases and licences publicly available.

Dr WOODRUFF - It should be standard. I cannot understand why that isn't just standard. It is public land.

Mrs PETRUSMA - The ones that we can do digitally, but there are some that are so old there is literally thousands of bits of paper everywhere.

Mr BAKER - There are literally thousands and our best guess is six thousand leases and licences across public and crown land. Some of them are historic, going back many years.

It will be a massive undertaking for the department over a 12 month period to retrospectively get all of those leases and licences publicly available, but the plan is every new lease and licence that is signed will be available online within a prescribed period of time and that will be prescribed in the legislation by a statutory policy.

Dr WOODRUFF - Will that just be mandatory for major land use and development? You said mandatory elements. Or will it be mandatory for all major? What does major mean?

Mrs PETRUSMA - Usually, what it would involve is a level three or four sort of RAA, because for the minor ones where it is just putting a post up or replacing a sign.

Dr WOODRUFF - So it would distinguish between level three and four?

Mrs PETRUSMA - It will be the equivalent of level three and four RAA.

Dr WOODRUFF - Which one will be which?

Mr BAKER - That is the work that we will be doing. It will also be a statutory policy that will be tabled and you will have an opportunity to see that when it is tabled as part of the act.

Dr WOODRUFF - But who would determine major and minor?

Mr BAKER - That will be in the statutory policy that will be tabled.