Ms O'CONNOR question to MINISTER for PARKS, Mrs PETRUSMA
Yesterday on ABC statewide radio, the CEO of Queensland-based ASX-listed company Experience Co confirmed they submitted a draft Reserve Activity Assessment to develop a five-star luxury lodge along the wild South Coast Track. This is interesting, given that you admitted the RAA process needs a complete overhaul. The South Coast Track is a heartland of the Tasmanian Aboriginal community. An Aboriginal heritage report cannot condone the construction required to build five-star lodges and you simply cannot have five-star lodges dotted along the one star track. It is a track so rough it is described by Tasmanian-based tourism operators as weaving through 85 kilometres of waist-deep mud. Consultants have established that more than $40 million is required to get the track up to standard for the clientele of these five-star lodges.
Are you prepared to spend more than $40 million of public money facilitating the pipedreams of the Gold Coast-based white shoe brigade? Given UNESCO's interests in Aboriginal cultural heritage has an Aboriginal heritage report been commissioned?
Mr Speaker, I thank the honourable member for her question. It is pity she did not listen to the acting secretary of the department on Leon Compton's program this morning. He did an outstanding job in explaining the processes that will be undertaken regarding this proposal.
The proposal's proponent has said that the supporting involvement of the Tasmanian Aboriginal community was central to the plans the company was wanting to undertake and that they want to undertake a raft of consultations with the Tasmanian Aboriginal people. He said:
One of our core values is respect and respect for the environment we work in, the cultures that exist within that environment. Certainly, from our perspective, we are at our core very much about working with local communities, working with indigenous populations and providing opportunities for them in partnership, economically and socially.
He said they will be undertaking this consultation. The Government's expectation is that with this proponent, in fact any proponent who wants to undertake development in TWWHA, in our wildness areas, they will at all stages undertake community consultation with Tasmanian Aboriginal people, in fact, with the wider Tasmanian people. People nationally and internationally can also have their say -
Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Mr Speaker, standing order 45, relevance. Could the minister just let the House know whether an Aboriginal heritage report has been commissioned and whether the state would fund track upgrades?
Mr SPEAKER - As I said earlier, I cannot put words into ministers' mouths. The minister was answering the question. As far as asking them goes, points of order are not an opportunity for members to restate a question and interrupt the minister while they are speaking.
I will ask the minister to address the question; that is all I can do.
Mrs PETRUSMA - Thank you, Mr Speaker. As their proponent made clear, he is doing a draft RAA. When we get the final RAA and undertake the assessments, then of course Aboriginal cultural values assessments will be undertaken on each site, because that is a requirement for any development that would happen in the TWWHA.
So, when the time comes, they will undertake the assessments that need to be undertaken. Whether these are Aboriginal cultural assessments, EPBC assessments, whether to refer it to UNESCO, whether it is under our RAA or local government assessments, the proponent will have to undertake every assessment that they are required to do as part of this process. As was made quite clear on the radio today, each of those individual different elements could take three to 12 months to be undertaken.
As for Ms O'Connor's statement about requiring $40 million of taxpayer dollars, I am advised that the PWS has not had any discussions with the current or former proponent in relation to the state funding any track works to support this project. Throughout this process - which will not be a quick process if the proponent decides to actually submit an RAA - the Greens will have opportunities, together with all Tasmanians and the Tasmanian Aboriginal people, to make submissions during the community consultation process, which will happen at numerous times throughout this development.