Ms O'CONNOR (Clark - Leader of the Greens - Motion) - Madam Speaker, I move -
That the House -
(1) Understands Tasmania’s National Parks and Reserves are protected for their outstanding natural and cultural values.
(2) Acknowledges the Government’s Expressions of Interest (EOI) process is conducted in secret, and is a matter of growing concern for Tasmanians across the social, cultural and political spectrum.
(3) Notes that the Resource Management and Planning Appeal Tribunal (RMPAT) concluded in the recent Lake Malbena case that 'a proper interpretation of… the Scheme only requires… that a Management Plan is in existence; and… an assessment of use in accordance with the Management Plan has been undertaken and approved up to and including Step 7 of the RAA process'.
(4) Further acknowledges this means that a project’s compliance with a Management Plan cannot be appealed to RMPAT.
(5) Further acknowledges this means for a level 1, 2, or 3 Reserve Activity Assessment there is no opportunity for formal community consultation on matters pertaining to compliance with a Management Plan.
(6) Agrees that, at a minimum, developments in Reserved Areas should be subject to a process that allows for public consultation on compliance with a Management Plan, and that this compliance must be able to be tested in an appeal to RMPAT.
(7) Calls on the Government to halt the EOI process until a new statutory process - that allows for public consultation and an appeal on matters pertaining to compliance with a Management Plan - is in place.
I rise on behalf of the Greens to move a motion that goes to the heart of public concern about the Liberals in government, their mismanagement of our national parks, Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area and other public lands, and the growing level of community concern about what has become a corrupted, secretive process to privatise parts of Tasmania that have been loved and treasured by Tasmanians for decades.
Members of this House know I am not of the Christian faith, but this morning I went along to the Tasmanian Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast. It was a fantastic event, and I do go each year. This morning we heard from John Zeckendorf, a Tasmanian entrepreneur, but also one of only 25 Australians who has climbed all seven great peaks of the world. The reason I mention John Zeckendorf is because he told the story of moving to Tasmania eight years ago for a year. He is still here because he and his family fell in love with this place. He talks about when he was climbing Everest being able to see the curve of the earth and the stars almost beneath his feet and understanding he was in one of the great temples if you like, the great beautiful wilderness of Everest and the Himalayas. He was talking about how being in Tasmania now that he has that sense of wonder and awe about what a beautiful island this is and those same comments were reflected by Stephen Baxter, the head of the Baptist Church in Tasmania. He was talking about our environment and what a remarkable, beautiful island lutruwita/Tasmania is.
What is at the heart of that beauty? It is our wilderness. It is our public protected areas, places that have been set aside for their natural and cultural values, set aside for current and future generations. They are our gift to the world but under this Government our wilderness, the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, our national parks, coastal reserves and other public lands are up for grab through an expressions of interest process which has entirely corrupted good management of our protected areas in Tasmania.
It all started back in 2014-15 when this document was produced. This document, the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area Management Plan of 2016, was the foundational vehicle for the corruption of good process around development in Tasmania's wilderness. This document was written with the express purpose of enabling increased commercial development in the wilderness. Lodges, huts, helicopter flights and this document, let us not forget, was written not long after the Liberal's returned from their fevered, and thankfully unsuccessful, attempts to wind back the extensions to the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage area which were made in 2013 as a result of the fact that there were Greens in government.
Now, we have had Mr Gutwein who is obviously feeling some heat over this issue because of the growing constituency of concern not only amongst conservationists but fly-fishers, bushwalkers and everyday Tasmanians about this process. They are filling the letters pages of our local papers with letters of extreme concern about the secrecy and the privatisation.
We had Mr Gutwein in the earlier debate on the expressions of interest process trying to claim that this is the same process that was in place under previous governments. Of course, we know that is a lot of crock because previously we had the 1999 Wilderness World Heritage Area Management Plan - it was award winning. It was regarded as an outstanding mechanism for protecting Tasmania's wilderness world heritage area and of course it was imperfect, but here are some of the contrasts. The 1999 world heritage area management plan had an overarching management objective to maintain or enhance wilderness quality. The 2016 final plan - and let us not forget the final plan ignored the more than 7000 submissions that came in from the people of Tasmania in opposition to the draft management plan - totally ignored those submissions. In the final plan, 'maintaining or enhancing wilderness quality' is replaced with 'to protect and conserve the natural landscapes of the TWWHA, particularly in areas of exceptional natural aesthetic and cultural importance'. The word 'wilderness', hey presto it is gone.
The 1999 plan said, 'In the Southwest National Park, development of infrastructure, including huts, is not allowed in view of the natural character of the area'. The corrupted 2016 final plan replaced this with, 'the number of commercial huts on the South Coast Track is limited to seven', which tells us everything we need to know about a statutory document which was written through the lens only of enabling commercial development inside the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.
I know that the Liberals in Government struggle with not only the word 'wilderness' but the concept of wilderness. We have seen them try to erase wilderness from the Tasmanian World Heritage Management Plan. We have seen the undermining of the ideal of wilderness and the importance of protecting it through the work that is happening on Tasmania's brand. Here is the International Union for the Conservation of Nature definition of wilderness:
A large area of unmodified or slightly modified land and/or sea retaining its natural character and influence without permanent or significant habitation, which is protected and managed so as to preserve its natural condition.
Wilderness, according to the National Wilderness Inventory, and this is a condensed version, has four key elements: remoteness from settlement; apparent naturalness; biophysical naturalness; and time remoteness. The Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area has all those qualities and so many more.
One of the huge problems with this expressions of interest process, apart from the fact it is a total stitch-up for the big end of town, goes to the lack of a proper statutory process for assessing applications to develop inside protected areas. We know that the Resource Management and Planning Appeal Tribunal, or RMPAT, concluded in the recent Lake Malbena case that:
A proper interpretation of the scheme only requires that a management plan is in existence and an assessment of use in accordance with the management plan has been undertaken and approved and up to and including step seven of the RAA, that is, the Reserve Activity Assessment process.
What RMPAT told us is that they cannot test whether any development proposal is compliant with the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area Management Plan, even the weak one of 2016. They cannot even assess whether it is compliant with the planning scheme. All they are able to determine is whether a management plan is in place. Because the management plans have been cooked in order to enable development, the ground work has already been laid to take away all power from local government, and most significantly and by design, the whole process has been set up so that Tasmanians have so few opportunities to input that it is almost meaningless.
The only place where the people of Tasmania who are concerned about the protection of our wilderness and national parks can have a say when a management plan has been stitched up - as it was with this one - and the management plan, for example the narawntapu National Park, or if the secretive internal process that is the Parks and Wildlife Reserve Activity Assessment process determines that a proposal is at the level four - that is the highest level - then there is a requirement for public consultation through the federal EPBC process.
People who love Lake Malbena and want to see the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area protected, made their views known when Daniel Hackett's proposal to privatise completely Halls Island came to the Central Highlands Council. The people of Tasmania who were concerned put their views to the council and overwhelmingly they rejected the proposal. I believe there was something like 1300 submissions made to council. In an expression of democracy, the Central Highlands Council said, 'That is right; we are not going to approve this project', on whole series of grounds, including non-compliance with the planning scheme and non-compliance with the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area Management Plan.
You want to talk about the secrecy around the Reserve Activity Assessment process. Here is a letter to Mr Jason Jacobi, the Director of National Parks and Wildlife Service, from 7 April this year, from one of the true champions of our wilderness, Geoff Law OA:
Dear Mr Jacobi
Request for copies of reserve activity assessments for certain developments within the Tasmanian reserve estate.
I am writing to request copies of the reserve activity assessment for each of the following proposed developments within the Tasmanian public reserve estate, including the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.
He asks for five RAAs, the one that relates to the Maydena bike park proposal, the Halls Island-Lake Malbena proposal - I remind the House, a copy of which was leaked to the Tasmanian Greens because some people in Government are so concerned about this corrupted process - helicopter landing sites, Mr Law has asked for. The RAA on the South East Cape walk, and it is worth stopping here for a moment.
The South East Cape, Tasmania's southern wild coastline, is one of the last great wild coastlines on the planet. We do not find places like that anymore. They are unique. They are treasures. They are part of our global heritage. This Government fiddled a management plan to allow Ian Johnstone to build seven huts on the South Coast Track, one of the last great coastal wildernesses in the world. Not only did they do that, I think they threw in about $2 million to help him make it happen. I think they call that corporate welfare.
Mr Law also asked for the RAA on the Cradle Base Camp Experience. He also sought copies of the reasons for the decisions determining the level for each RAA, and copies of the conditions that have been applied to those developments that have been approved. What did he get back from Government? A big fat bagel, after a very long period of time. His response, after trying to get this information which should be made publicly available, was expressed in a recent letter to the editor of the Tasmanian Mercury. Mr Law says -
Eighteen months ago, I asked the Government for information about tourism development in the World Heritage Area. I saw copies of environmental assessments that had supposedly cleared the way for buildings and infrastructure. I tried to find the boundaries and conditions that applied to private leases for developments. My request was duck-shoved from one department to another until I was told to submit a formal right-to-information request. That request has been in the Ombudsman's in-tray for nearly a year.
There is another request that has been in the Ombudsman's in-tray for nearly five years, and that one was lodged by Nick McKim, the then member for Franklin, in relation to the fiddle over this document. His right to information request was rejected, and it is still sitting in the Ombudsman's in-tray. That is pretty convenient for the Government, isn't it? I continue with Mr Law's letter -
My requests pertain to public land set aside for conservation. In my opinion the public has a right to know about environmental impacts. The public has a right to know boundaries, extent and public access restrictions that apply to private leases and parks. Many of these developments have been subsidised by the taxpayer. Government secrecy on development in national parks makes the forestry industry seem like a beacon of transparency. A takeover of publicly owned conservation reserves by private developers is occurring through stealth. Meanwhile, our taxpayer-funded members are advantaged by large political donations from some of these same developers. The system is corrupt.
So says Mr Geoff Law of Dynnyrne, and who can argue with that?
If we go to everyday Tasmanians, people who for generations have been enjoying Tasmania's wilderness and other public protected areas: the letters pages of the Mercury, as I said, have been full of these people. These are the people that Mr Tucker in here earlier had the hide to call 'elites'. They are everyday Tasmanians. The elites will be flying in to Lake Malbena on one of the 200 or more chopper flights and landings, into Lake Malbena/Halls Island in the Walls of Jerusalem National Park. This EOI process is about catering to elites. That is what it is about. It is about bringing the money in. It provides no benefit to rural and regional towns because you are plonking these developments inside the wilderness, degrading wilderness values, and then you get fly-in, fly-out elites coming in for exclusive access to our Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.
Here is an everyday Tasmanian, Brett Smith. He wrote to the Leader of the Opposition, Ms White, and he says this -
I am writing to you to highlight the plights of public stakeholders across Tasmania. The Lake Malbena development and the state Government's corrupt and secretive EOI process is setting a precedent where our public lands can be secretly leased without our knowledge, forcing developments and privatisation on public wilderness that belongs to all.
I might pause for a moment to let the House know that Brett Smith is not a greenie. He is very firm about that. He is a Labor man. He is concerned about it. I will wind up with a little of what he said here -
As a spokesperson of a lobby group representing fishers and walkers, we plead with your party to help us. This is a process designed to escape scrutiny, take away our beloved recreations and crush our spirit.
We are well aware that your party -
That is, the Labor Party -
… has distanced yourselves from this issue and are concerned about associating with Greens policy as mentioned at your state conference.
This is not a Greens issue. This is an issue of decency, public rights, a social licence and our right to have our public land stay in public hands.
The Hodgman Government could, at a whim tomorrow, take the Western Lakes Wilderness Fishery away from us hardworking Tasmanians, who love our recreations out there, and give it to a handful of private developers.
Madam Deputy Speaker, the depth of community concern about the expressions of interest process grows by the day, in people from all points of the compass in Tasmania, all walks of life, all voting persuasions. They have had five years to have a look at this process and to them it has manifestly failed the 'sniff test'. They see it for what it is: a corrupted process designed to enable huts, lodges and helicopters to degrade the wilderness. They see it for exactly what it is.
Even if people were supportive at some level of more commercial development inside protected areas, they find the process, the secrecy, lack of transparency, the absolute stitch-ups, disgusting and repellent. A whole new wave of people who are opposed to the EOI process is coming on board once they have smelt the stink around the expressions of interest process.
I am aware that other members will want to have a say, but I want to go back to the heart of our notice of motion, which deals with the absence of a proper statutory process for any development inside protected areas. We look at the Lake Malbena decision. Clause 29.3.1 A1 of the Central Highlands Interim Planning Scheme of 2015 requires a project to comply with the relevant management plan. In the case of Lake Malbena, this is the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA) Management Plan of 2016. The Resource Management and Planning Appeal Tribunal (RMPAT) determined that a proper interpretation of Clause 29.3.1 A1 of the scheme only requires that (a), that a relevant management plan exists; and (b), that a Reserve Activity Assessment has been approved up to and including step 7.
As such, RMPAT has determined that it cannot assess whether or not a project is compliant with a management plan. When you look at the decision of RMPAT and the grounds on which the Central Highlands Council rejected the Lake Malbena proposal, it was because on multiple levels it was non-compliant, not only with the planning scheme, but with the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area Management Plan of 2016, as weak as that plan is.
We know a reserve activity assessment cannot be appealed; it does not call for submissions unless it is at level 4. There is no legal framework that determines when a level 4 must take place, so the reserve activity assessments are determined internally by the Parks and Wildlife Service. As we saw from our leaked copy of the RAA for Lake Malbena, they are pretty much written by the developer. That is what we got, pretty much written by the developer, and even though the proposal was not compliant with the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area Management Plan of 2016, this RAA, which was lodged with the Commonwealth at level 3, pretends that the proposal is compliant and we know it is not.
We know it is not compliant with even the standing camp policy. So what does the Government do when it is clear it is not compliant with standing camp policy? Of course, they announce a review of the standing camp policy. Despite the Lake Malbena proposal being of significant public interest, it was not assessed as a level 4. Despite its impacts on wilderness values, Parks determined it would not be lodged as a level 4, and therefore there would be no mandatory requirement for public consultation. This is a problem because the Government can, and has, stitched up a result through the reserve activity assessment process, as it did with Lake Malbena.
The Lake Malbena proposal, in the words of the proponent, is for the very top end of the tourism market, 'seeking privileged access to Tasmania's wilderness'. That is the actual elites. The visitors are flown in, provided with heating, power showers, toilets a barbecue, a guide for each three people and by the looks of it, food. Visitors are in no way, shape or form self-reliant, experienced or committed to this type of zone and the zoning that is in the stitched-up 2016 plan makes it clear that visitors must exhibit a higher level of experience and commitment in this type of zone.
That is not what is going to happen with the Lake Malbena proposal. They are going to be flown in and flown out and pity the poor fly-fisher in the area who has to listen to those helicopters go back and forth. That instantly undermines the wilderness values of that area.
The 2016 TWWHA management plan only allows standing camps in the self-reliant recreation zone but the accommodation facilities proposed are described in the plans as a type C standing camp. Type C standing camps are only allowed where the site has already been degraded or hardened to such an extent that rehabilitation to its natural state is unlikely or where access is exceptionally remote or difficult. Neither of those conditions were met by Wild Drake Pty Ltd in its proposal to privatise and allow for exclusive access to Halls Island in Lake Malbena inside the exquisite Walls of Jerusalem National Park.
The proponent has posed no argument justifying the use of a type C standing camp. The standing camp policy requires that the walls and roofs of structures will be made mostly of tent style material. The policy describes the experience in the following way:
In a standing camp, visitors can feel the wind as it flaps the sides of the tent and hear the surf as they lie down at night.
This is the point of difference for standing camps. This type of intimate experience cannot be gained by staying in hut or lodge-style accommodation with four solid walls and modern conveniences. The Lake Malbena buildings will be principally constructed of flat fibreglass, reinforced plastic panels. There is nothing compliant with the standing camp policy or the 2016 management plan about this permanent, hard, luxury camp.
We have a situation here where a government has changed management plans to facilitate private developments as the vehicle for driving this developer feeding frenzy in our protected areas. The Lake Malbena developer still wanted to go further than the revised dodgy management plan allowed so the Government stitched up the reserve activity assessment to say it was compliant even though it was manifestly not.
We are now in a situation where the Resource Management and Planning Appeals Tribunal says they can only assess whether a management plan exists. Well, yes, okay, a management plan exists and an RAA has been approved. Well of course it has been approved because it was another stitch up. They cannot assess compliance with a management plan. The Government in more public spin is claiming this as a 'robust process' and a project that has been ticked off by the independent umpire when the reality is that the independent umpire has said they have no power, no jurisdiction to assess this project, to assess whether or not it is compliant.
Just before I wind up, I want to go to the heart of some of the secrecy around this expressions of interest process. We had even for stage one, stage one of the process at least you saw what the proposals kind of were, at least you had a sense of what was being put on the table in terms of seeking exclusive use rights in protected areas in Tasmania. At least you got that. But what did we get out of the new Parks minister at Estimates this year? Stage two, no sorry, it was all a bit troublesome and inconvenient to have to deal with public concern around proposals in stage one and as the Coordinator-General said in response to my question when I said why? Why are you not releasing any details of any of the proposals that have come under stage two? To paraphrase him he said that the proponents or developers had found the stage one process a bit awkward, a bit uncomfortable. So, what did the Government do? Just changed it straight away.
It does not matter that thousands and thousands of Tasmanians are highly uncomfortable about the expressions of interest process. That has not changed anything but a handful of developers who do not like scrutiny have a bit of a grumble about the process and hey presto, the process is changed overnight. That is utterly disgraceful.
We have a right to know. These lands they do not belong to the Liberals. They belong to the people of Tasmania, they belong to Aboriginal Tasmanians, they belong to the world. But we have this corrupted process where under stage two, which is now an open-ended process, proponents have to sign a legal agreement prohibiting them from talking about the proposal.
The Government hides under commercial-in-confidence and makes proponents say nothing and you wonder why people are so distrustful? Mr Gutwein gets up here the other day and says, trust me. Trust me with the world heritage area and this process. Well, no we will not. We do not trust you because you are manifestly not worthy of trust.
We lodged a right to information request to find out what we could about the South Coast Track. Here is another classic. We lodged an RTI for any information regarding DPIPWE's expenses or requested investment relating to the South Coast Track or Ian Johnstone from March 2014 to present.
The answer comes back, 'A search of DPIPWE's records located a total of 84 pages of information relevant to your application'. Guess what, the secretary - and I think it was the secretary which meant we could not, no it was the delegated officer - so the delegated officer decided that 75 pages of the 84 that were relevant to the request were withheld in full, six pages were partly withheld - so partly exempt - but we had three pages back. Three pages disclosed in full and that is insulting to the people of Tasmania. It is insulting to all rational people and it is insulting to the public's right to know.
At every step of the way, we have been fobbed off. We have been lied to. Every step of the way there has been secrecy. The only reason anyone saw the Reserve Activity Assessment for Lake Malbena is because it was leaked and still there is this secrecy. So, if Mr Gutwein gets up and tries to mislead the House again and tells us that the process is exactly the same as it was under previous governments I want the House to be very clear that that is a lie. It is a complete and utter fabrication. The evidence speaks for itself.
This Government came into office and decided to unleash a developer free-for-all in our protected areas. It has tried to do so without reference back to the people of Tasmania. It has designed a system that explicitly shuts out the people of Tasmania. For example, previously the world heritage area was actually protected, in large part, by the provisions within the 1999 world heritage area management plan. There are no protections in this. There are no protections in this document and that was finally proved when RMPAT overturned the Central Highlands Council's decision on Lake Malbena. This is a destructive document. It is the foundation for the degrading of Tasmania's wilderness, one of the most precious, beautiful places on earth. It started here.
We need a proper statutory process for any development that happens inside public protected areas and the wilderness. Tasmanians have a right to know and they have a right to have a say because for decades and generations they have been using, loving and treasuring our shared common wealth, our protected areas, not Peter Gutwein's protected areas.
I commend the motion to the House.
Ms STANDEN (Franklin) - Madam Deputy Speaker, I note that the Leader of the Greens has not left much time for debate. It has become a bit of a pattern in this House that they introduce motions and then grandstand for a good portion of the time, pretending to want to know what other parties think about the ideas they are putting forward but then spend the majority of the time speaking to themselves and patting themselves on the back, taking the high moral ground and generally sitting in the position of judge and jury.
Ms O'Connor - Are you talking about us, Ms Standen?
Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order, Ms O'Connor. You have already had your time for contribution. Please let the member speak in peace and quiet.
Ms STANDEN - Tasmanian Labor believes in a robust planning system and it puts community consultation front and centre. Substantially, Tasmanian Labor is happy with the motion but we will propose a minor amendment. The reason is we agree that with nearly 50 per cent of Tasmania in national parks and other reserves, it is a significant issue to look at, not only the EOI process but also the Reserve Activity Assessment process and the broader context of resourcing for national parks. We are on record in flagging some reservations about the existing EOI process.
It is important to balance the visitor experience with natural and cultural values, with brand, with visitor economy but also with resources in order to balance visitor experience with expectations.
The improvements we would like to see go to the very important aspect around improving public understanding of the process for assessing activities of which EOIs, in the way the Leader of the Greens has described, is only one activity within national parks and reserves.
Improving public understanding of what activities ought to be undertaken within that public land and removing the perception of special deals of secrecy, therefore improving transparency. We believe in the principles of improved consultation and appeal rights for the public to have a say over public land but we also believe in the need for improved processes for industry so they have certainty over the processes. There is no better example of that than the Hacketts who have been through the process around the Lake Malbena proposal. Who could blame them for being angry at being hung out to dry through a long process?
Ms O'Connor - They were begging for it. Give us a break. He has got Halls Island. Not a bad reward.
Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order, Ms O'Connor. Ms Standen was quiet during your contribution. I ask for the same courtesy, please.
Ms STANDEN - Hung out to dry! Stuck between the Government's EOI process and those expectations of the public around consultation and appeal rights.
Labor has always supported Lake Malbena going through the council planning process and we note the decision of RMPAT to overturn that decision of the Central Highlands Council and that many parties are now considering the implications of that ruling.
We note that the opponents of the project are considering further avenues of appeal, and that is their right. Unlike the Greens, we are not seeking to prejudge this process and we will respect the final outcome.
It is important to differentiate these planning processes from the Liberal Government's EOI process that preceded the lodgement of the development application in that case and we have long been on the record arguing that transparency of the EOI process must be improved. Most developments in Tasmania's national parks and reserves will still require a planning permit from the relevant local council and Labor is committed to preserving the role of local government in that process. Labor will continue to engage and consult with the tourism industry, anglers, walkers and local communities, about development in Tasmania's world heritage areas. We need to see this in the context of a broader context as well.
In relation to the RAA - the Reserve Activity Assessment review process - the amendments I will table note that process has stalled and that it has been stalled for around 18 months, so far as I can see. It is not clear what progress has been made, if any, and it is clear that there is a need for improved consultation, consideration of appeal rights, the definition of the RAA within relation to the other planning legislation, in particular.
I note that the Government has cut significant resources from Parks and Wildlife Services. This is the agency that is responsible for delivering the visitor experience. In 2015, some $2.5 million, or 10 per cent of the budget, was cut. At that time, the Tasmanian National Parks Association president, Nick Sawyer, said at that point, Parks and Wildlife Services were, and I quote, 'stretched to breaking point'. This year, a further $1.61 million, or the equivalent to 24 rangers has been cut. That is without consideration.
According to this year's Budget papers, there has been no material improvement in funding resources to Parks and Wildlife. The Budget figures show that in four years' time the resources available to that agency will be lower than it is today, even before the additional $20 million of savings as part of the Government's broader $450 million savings target is factored in, which will be equivalent to almost 300 rangers. Particularly against the context for improved maintenance within our national parks and reserves, the additional strains in relation to bushfire and so on, as well as ongoing maintenance. This is a significant concern. We would like to see a commitment. In view of the time, I might table my amendments and share them also.
Labor proposes that paragraphs (1) through to (6) are retained. The first amendment is to delete paragraph (7) and replace it with:
(7) Notes the failure of the Government to review the Reserve Activity Assessment process that was commenced in early 2018 and promised to be completed by end 2018.
Amendment two is to insert a new paragraph (8) with three parts, that is:
Calls on the Government to -
(i) Release the key outcomes of the Reserve Activity Assessment review to date and commit to a timeframe for completion of the review.
(ii) Review and update management plans for Tasmania's national parks and reserves.
(iii) Commit to appropriate resourcing to enable the Parks and Wildlife Service to fulfil its responsibilities in overseeing Tasmania's national parks and reserves.
Ms O'Connor - Good god, what a disastrous amendment. You trust the Government to rewrite all the management plans?
Ms STANDEN - In relation to management plans, I am not sure specifically what the Greens' motion is referring to. I am advised that of the 19 national parks, not all national parks even have management plans in place.
Ms O'Connor - That is right, but there are provisions.
Ms STANDEN - I encourage the minister to advise how many are in place and how many of those are out of date. I spoke with a constituent just last week about the Douglas-Apsley management plan which I am advised was written in 1993 and not reviewed since. This is despite the department's own best management guidelines showing that there should be a review of those management plans every five years.
Ms O'Connor - So you trust the Government that has already corrupted management plans to re-write new ones?
Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order.
Ms STANDEN - Why are they not reviewing those management plans? Because they are so stretched doing everything else. There needs to be appropriate resourcing to enable those management plans to be properly reviewed and updated as well as those other aspects that I have outlined around the Reserve Activity Assessment review, which is the broader context for this motion. I will leave it at that.
Mr GUTWEIN (Bass - Treasurer) - Madam Deputy speaker, the member for Clark was nothing but predictable. I have to say that. Ms Standen was again nothing but predictable in that Labor once again was not able to find a position on anything.
To be clear, from the Government's point of view, we will not be supporting the Greens' motion. I do want to take the short period of time I have to put some facts on the table. What is important to understand first and foremost is that the EOI process is not a part of the planning process or the Reserve Activity Assessment process conducted within Parks. What the EOI process enables people to do is bring forward an idea, to have their intellectual property protected while that is assessed as to whether it may be suitable to proceed, and if it is then green-lighted, it then goes into same planning process that existed when the member for Clark was in government.
Ms O'Connor - You are lying again.
Mr GUTWEIN - I am not lying.
Ms O'Connor - You people stitched up management plans.
Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order, Ms O'Connor.
Mr GUTWEIN - The member should withdraw that because I am not lying. The process undertaken, whether it be through LUPA, or whether it be a reserve activity assessment, occurred under Labor and the Greens and it is occurring under us.
In terms of the TWWHA management plan, as the member is well aware, the amendments were all subject to consultation. That is legislated in the act. There are management plans in place for 16 of the 19 national parks in Tasmania; 65 per cent of protected land is covered by management plans. Importantly, in terms of the management plan, the Government accepted all the recommendations that were made by the Reactive Monitoring mission back in 2015, and the Government then accepted in full, and in the main, most of those recommendations have been met or are underway.
Let us talk about Halls Island for a moment. Halls Island was under licence prior to this process that we are engaged in. Halls Island had a hut built on it. It was not wilderness, and it was not deemed to be a wilderness area, which was why, as the member today raised the point that it does not carry that mantle, the reason was that it had been built on, and it had significant human activity.
In terms of the proposal that the Hacketts have brought forward, and the access arrangements, my understanding is that the access plan that has been presented will actually provide for an increased level of access from the public, over and above what occurred in the past; that will provide them with an increased level of access. More visitation is expected and, importantly, as part of the access plan, my understanding is that visitors to the island will be able to utilise the facilities that the Hacketts will provide in terms of toileting, rather than having to carry their waste out. To me that sounds like a win-win.
In terms of the claims of secrecy and corrupt process, we have engaged and implemented an additional process over and above what occurred when you were in government, and when the previous Labor government was there. The only time people understood when a lease or licence was agreed to by the government, either under yourselves or the previous Labor government, was after that deal was done.
Those arrangements included the Maria Island Walk, the Cradle Mountain huts, Pumphouse Point - all enabled under previous governments, entered into without the level of public notice, consultation, and input available that we enabled through the EOI process.
[Bookmark: _Hlk23355948] Once a proposal has been deemed acceptable to be green-lighted, that is in terms of whether or not it broadly meets the requirements of the management plan, whether or not the proponents have the capacity and capability to conduct such an operation, and importantly whether or not the operation will be financially or economically viable. They are the decisions and considerations through the EOI process. Should a proposal be deemed to be acceptable against those criteria, then it is made public before lease and licence negotiations occur.
The member for Clark is smiling because she knows full well under her government leases and licences were entered into with no process, without the public being aware of what was being negotiated -
Ms O'Connor - You are engaged in a fire sale of protected areas.
Mr GUTWEIN - what the proposals that were being considered were.
Ms O'Connor - Maybe you want to tell us what -
Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order, Ms O'Connor.
I will just make the point that this side of the House, as much as that side of the House, and even yours included, we absolutely value the Tasmanian wilderness. I make the point that the former member for Franklin, Mr McKim, monetised parks by being paid as a guide for a walking company.
Ms O'Connor - Are you serious? You are desperate.
Mr GUTWEIN - Let us be clear. You came into this place and you raised John Zeckendorf. What a fantastic Tasmanian. He has accomplished an enormous number of things, including Mount Everest. How did he get to the top of Mount Everest? With a paid guide in company. Let us be clear.
Ms O'Connor - Is there a lodge on the top of Mount Everest?
Dr Woodruff - Is it a World Heritage Wilderness area?
Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order. Ms O'Connor and Dr Woodruff. I do not think you want to be asked to go before the next few minutes, so I ask you to just -
Ms O'Connor - Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker.
Mr GUTWEIN - In terms of Halls Island, I want to again come back to the process that went through. Obviously that proposal was subject to rigorous assessment by the Commonwealth, including consideration of over several hundred public and expert submissions. They determined that the proposal was not a controlled action. The Commonwealth in doing so considered 900 submissions that were made, including I might say around 800 that were campaign submissions.
We make no apologies for our EOI process. It adds an additional level of transparency. Under previous governments, and the member knows this is a fact, lease and licence arrangements were entered into without the public knowing what was even being discussed. In terms of the EOI process, both stage one and stage two, all of those proposals that have progressed to the point where we are going to negotiate a lease or a licence, or they are going to enter the planning process, are made public, and they are currently on the website as you full well know. That is a level of transparency that you never provided.
In terms of the TWWHA management, that has followed a statutory process. It followed a statutory process in which, as I have said, when the monitoring mission raised a range of recommendations, the Government immediately agreed to those recommendations.
Ms O'Connor - Not to log and mine the TWWHA.
Mr GUTWEIN - Agreed to those recommendations, and we should be appalled at some of the behaviours and some of the things that have been said against people like the Hacketts, who have taken the opportunity to be prepared to showcase to Tasmanians, and to the world, parts of this state that many people would never get the opportunity to see, and in the same way provide improved access and facilities for those who want to visit the island through their access plan.
All that we see though is the self-righteous moralising of the member for Clark and the member for Franklin as they continue push for what they think is a -
Ms OGILVIE - Point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker, to clarify, are you on the ALP amendment, because there are two?
Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER - Yes, that is the only amendment to motion we have before us at the moment.
Ms OGILVIE - Are we voting as a caucus on those or separately?
Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER - Yes, the Labor opposition's amendments to the motion is the question before us.
The question is that the amendments to the motion be agreed to.
The House divided -
Ms Dow (Teller)
Mrs Rylah (Teller)
Question - That the original motion be agreed to -
The House divided -
Dr Woodruff (Teller)
Ms Butler (Teller)