Ms O'CONNOR question to MINISTER for PARKS, Mr HODGMAN
Yesterday, we had to listen to you tell falsehoods about your Government's management of Tasmania's world-class protected areas. People who care about and understand the fragility of our parks and wilderness areas know the truth and they will see it for themselves if they go looking in the Tasman National Park. On Saturday, we understand your exclusive operator for the Three Capes Track, the Tasmanian Walking Company, will take international media on the track to show off the new private lodges with a VIP tour scheduled for next week. Can you confirm, as a result of your Government's 'anything goes' approach to Tasmania's protected areas, contractors cleared an area approximately 20 metres by 20 metres inside the Tasman National Park for a helipad the Tasmanian Walking Company had decided it no longer needed? Are you aware of this destructive act that resulted in a large scar inside the park, a scar that will take years to recover, and can you tell the House what you know about this damage?
Madam SPEAKER - We have a Standing Order about props. I presume that is going to be tabled.
Ms O'Connor - I would like to table it, Madam Speaker.
Madam SPEAKER - I will take a ruling on that. Ms O'Connor, you will need to seek leave to table it and, if you wish to do so, you will have to do so in other formal business.
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for the question. I will make further inquiries into the allegations made by the member in relation to this matter so I can be fully informed of the facts and understand whether there is any veracity in what the member has said. While there have been some excellent proposals come forward through this innovative, bold initiative we took to the last election and which is opening up our state to sensible -
Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker. The House should not have to tolerate this. A question was asked about damage to the Three Capes Track. You have spruiked the same speech we have to put up with all the time. This is about damage to parks and it is a serious question.
Mr FERGUSON - On the point of order, Madam Speaker. That is disorderly and the member is debating her own question. As the member knows, the Premier is able to answer as he sees fit. This is disorderly conduct on points of order to attract attention.
Madam SPEAKER - Order. I disallow the point of order. I need to remind the House that if you wish to keep raising these points of order, you are robbing each other of valuable question time, and we are here to serve the people of Tasmania. Thank you, Premier.
Mr HODGMAN - Thank you, Madam Speaker. The process we have established is very robust and does not allow 'anything goes', as the member suggested.
Ms O'Connor - Have a look at the picture.
Mr HODGMAN - It is necessary for any proposal to go through a rigorous assessment process and achieve the proper planning and environmental approvals for projects of this type, which is rightly so in our precious environmental areas that are receiving more visitors than ever before -
Ms O'Connor - Have a look at the picture.
Mr HODGMAN - and are a source of great pride and value to Tasmanians, all of us. It is why my government is investing more into our parks and wildlife service than your government ever did.
Ms O'Connor - Deal with the question.
Mr HODGMAN - We are investing in our parks infrastructure -
Madam SPEAKER - Order. Ms O'Connor, I appreciate your passion for this subject but I urge you to show some restraint, otherwise I will call you and put you on warning, which I will reluctantly do.
Mr HODGMAN - Madam Speaker, we are doing more for our Parks and Wildlife Service. We are employing more rangers and frontline staff, investing in infrastructure, supporting these precious assets to ensure they are future proofed for future generations to enjoy. We take very seriously the need to protect what is one of our state's great assets and a precious environmental area.
I will look further into any matters raised by the member. I point to the hypocrisy of the Greens. Whilst they complain about some people being able to access our wilderness areas via a helicopter, it is exactly what Bob Brown wanted to do. He sought permission to take a rich mate across our wilderness areas -
Madam SPEAKER - Ms O'Connor and Dr Woodruff, you are formally warned. A second warning and I will have to send you out.
Mr HODGMAN - It was alright for him to fly across the wilderness area in a helicopter but it is not alright for anyone else, for our tourists or for other Tasmanians who would like to access them. At one point he thought it was alright for us to reduce the deer population in our state and our wilderness areas, which is causing significant environmental degradation.
Ms O'CONNOR - Madam Speaker, I reluctantly raise the point of order on relevance given your warning. Not once has the Premier even talked about the Three Capes Track or the Tasman National Park. Not once has he gone near the question.
Madam SPEAKER - I hear your point of order. The Premier said he was happy to investigate that matter for you and hopefully he will. Thank you, Premier.
Mr HODGMAN - I certainly will, Madam Speaker. Greens hypocrisy is at play. There is also the need to properly investigate any matters raised by members opposite in this place, which we will do.
If anyone wonders about the level of commitment made by this Government to future-proofing our parks, reserves, Crown land and our wilderness areas, look at this year's budget. We have done more than any previous government in this space. We recognise the importance of these areas to Tasmanians. They are also important to our visitor economy. Many people who visit our state from interstate and overseas want to access them as well. It should not only be the place for Greens to visit. It should be more open and available to Tasmanians and other people who visit our state, as long as we protect what is special about them, we invest in them and we ensure that there is more staff in the parks and wildlife service available to do the job. That is what we are doing.