You are here

Parks - Tyndall Ranges, Next Iconic Walk

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Thursday, 9 September 2021

Tags: Parks, State Budget

Dr WOODRUFF - Minister, the funded next iconic walk is the Tyndall Ranges. The ABC has a story today on the back of right to information documents they have obtained. The independent report shows the cost of that walk is actually going to cost $37 million to create. This is almost double the $20 million allocated for it. Despite the fact there are many other options with two other options come in under $20 million, can you please talk about the report's estimates of the cost benefit ratio for the Tyndall Ranges?

They find it to be 1.06 - which is one, being break-even - so it barely breaks even and there are some pretty heroic estimates there about the number of days that would need to be walked in order to make it viable. If you could talk about how is that possible to make it financially viable, why have you funded something that is going to cost twice the price of other walks available that are safe and in the right place?

Mrs PETRUSMA - To get to the nub of the question, I refer the members to a map and we have got more copies of the map so members can see. In regards to the different proposals, the yellow was what was originally proposed - the Philosopher's Trail track.

The one in blue is the Parks and Wildlife proposal but the one in red is the one that Mr Bob Brown put forward and, as you can see, there is a lot of similarity between our proposal and what was originally put forward by Mr Brown as the trans-Tarkine trail. Our track nearly follows it. That was going to be a seven day walk; ours is now a three day walk which had been shown to be more feasible. Mr Brown said there would be a lot of merits about his proposal.

As Mr Brown suggested, we have avoided the steep climb under the Tyndall's plateau, we are doing that so it will be cheaper to construct, it avoids the fragile unburnt alpine areas on the plateau. The route avoids the exposed wettest windy high country to ensure the advantage of being protected from the prevailing north-west and western Roaring 40s.

It includes visitations to the other lakes and this is all that was put forward by Mr Brown in his proposal to us. It avoids the impacts of the roads and the dams which dominate the view and it also includes the magnificent and historic Lake Margaret and unique rainforest so this is actually an initiative I thought you would warmly welcome seeing as in the email that Mr Brown sent us, we have ticked off on all the requirements that he said.

The feasibility study showed a positive benefit cost ratio of 1.13 for Tasmania as a whole. This is hardly a surprise when the benefits of a single eco-tourism attraction are spread across the whole state. What is really important to note about this proposal is that the cost benefit ratio for the west coast community is a whopping 12.71. In other words, for every dollar we invest in this project, the returns to the west coast community through tourism, hospitality and support services are 12.71 which is a similar situation to the West Coast Wilderness Railway and investment in that attraction is a lynchpin for the west coast economy.

This feasibility study shows this project will bring a massive boost to the west coast community. I have been contacted by everyone who is very delighted they will get an investment in the area. It is a game-changer for this area, whether it is going to be increased accommodation in the area, transport, tourism or guided walks. This is an exciting opportunity this Government wants to do to help reinvigorate the west coast, especially with all the work the West Coast Council has done putting bike tracks in the area, the investment in regards to Horsetail Falls, for example. It has significant benefit for this community that needs this sort of investment.

Dr WOODRUFF - There is no doubt it is a great idea to want to get people out into beautiful places in Tasmania. The question is about the government spend and value for money, doing it sensitively and protecting wilderness values.

Mrs PETRUSMA - No, we have taken on board everything put forward to us.

Dr WOODRUFF - I heard those comments and I will look in more detail. I have not seen this map before. The right to information documents had a cost benefit ratio of 1.06, which barely breaks even for this project.

Mrs PETRUSMA - That is for the whole state, 1.13 versus the 12.71 for the west coast community.

Dr WOODRUFF - Okay but it is still project breakeven. Documents, as I understand it, as reported in the ABC reveal a cost to hikers of $576 for a room or $288 a person for camping on the track, just to break even. The visitation numbers are based on an unrealistic assessment of the capacity of people to walk on the track given the conditions and that beautiful wild west area has some of the highest rainfall in Tasmania. How can you stand by the visitation numbers which are not based in reality essentially? They would have to walk 216 days a year.

Mrs PETRUSMA - The fact is there will be an affordable option and there will be an option for people wanting to visit huts. We believe once this is built, people will go the area based on the fact we are putting in place the Horsetail Falls walk, the mountain bike tracks, it is going to become an area for tourists to go to. Bushwalkers identify they wanted another iconic walk and I have been up this area and had a look at it. There is something about it that is so earthy, it gets deep into your soul. It is the wilderness and it is that area you just go, when you are up there and when there is nobody else there it is something where you go to be at one with it. It is fantastic.

Dr WOODRUFF - It is a poor match for who we are targeting this walk at. A three-day iconic walk. The people we are trying to attract are by nature, lesser experienced bushwalkers. We are attracting them into an area, in the words of a bushwalker from the Tyndall Ranges, where they would find themselves in dangerous situations with unpredictable weather needing assistance and rescue. They said it would be unacceptably high. It rains 216 days a year, it is extreme conditions. I would be the last person to say we should stop people walking in places like that, but these are people who have never done walking. That is who we are trying to attract to these three-day walks.

Mrs PETRUSMA - It is also on the eastern side. A lot of groups I have met with since I have become minister have all said, whatever you do, do not put it on the Alpine area, so we haven't done that. They have also said put it on the eastern side where it is sheltered and that is where it is, it is on the sheltered and not on the exposed side. I might get Mr Jacobi to add a bit more in regards to the cost benefits of this project.

Mr JACOBI - Thank you, Ms Woodruff for the question. It is important to highlight that the reference to 1.06 or 1.13, the final figure is 1.13. If you go to the final feasibility document on the website reference is state-wide is 1.13. The reference on the ABC was in relation to a previous draft of the feasibility. The most important thing is it delivers 12.71 as the minister outlined, cost benefit ratio for the west coast, which is extraordinary. Personally, it is amazing this Government has backed this project in to the value of $40 million because it demonstrates we have market tested this product to within an inch of its life. We have done almost four market testing feasibilities to confirm that it is viable, feasible and the fact the Government has backed it into $40 million is unheard of in my public service career.

It demonstrates the Government is prepared to deliver the best possible outcomes. In terms of the costs, we have some predicted modelling around the likely costs of the hut-based walk and that is around $570 for the three days, two nights. That has not been confirmed. It will be confirmed through further detailed analysis of the product. There will be a camping option, which will be significantly cheaper, if not half price or less. It's also important to note that the existing walk to the Tyndalls, from the western-side of the range, will continue to be available and it will continue to be free. You won't even need to buy a Parks pass to do that walk. All those people who currently enjoy and appreciate the Tyndalls will be able to do that. This is providing a walk in a completely new area that nobody can access at the moment.

The feasibility study demonstrates that at around about 7000 departures per year we can make over $2 million in revenue. That revenue will pay the costs of employing up to nine staff on the walk to deliver a very high-standard of service and safety. It will also generate a profit of potentially $600 000 per year, which will go back into maintaining the walk and continuing to provide a high-quality service. That's not even mentioning the flow-on benefits to the local community.

This walk has the potential to provide 139 jobs during construction and 40 jobs during operation -

Dr WOODRUFF - How can there be 9 000 departures when it rains for two thirds of the year?

Mr JACOBI - The figure of 7000 departures is based on modelling of the walk operating nine months of the year. The consultants have modelled a very conservative figure. They believe that it will be far more popular than they have modelled; but their model is at the bottom end. I have no doubt there is demand for this walk 12 months of the year. It's a lot less rainfall that you get in Milford and Routeburn. I walked Routeburn only two years ago. I had four days of constant rain and it was the most fantastic walk-

Dr WOODRUFF - It doesn't put me off either, but I'm not the average bushwalker.

Mr JACOBI - It was one of the best walks I've ever done. I suppose the message is that it's conservative. There is plenty of option for us to expand the season to 12 months, which would result in more departures and more benefits to the economy.