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Tasman National Park Land Clearing

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Thursday, 30 August 2018

Tags: Land Clearing, Tasmanian Walking Company, Three Capes Track, Cradle Mountain

Ms O'CONNOR (Denison - Leader of the Greens) - Mr Deputy Speaker, let the Hansard record show that the Premier is on his way out the door after delivering that wholly inadequate response to the questions we asked this morning. We still do not have any clarity on why the Tasmanian Walking Company was given approval to build a helipad. It decided it did not want to build that helipad and wanted to save costs, it approached the Parks and Wildlife Service, got approval from them to share their helipad, and yet this area inside the Tasman National Park was cleared and clear-felled.

I do not know where your advice is coming from but it does not go to the substance of the concern, which is this. The concern is that a commercial proponent, the exclusive operator of the private part of the Three Capes Track, got approval to build a helipad, decided it was not going to build the helipad and for whatever reason - and it is not a gold-standard response, I can tell you that - did not let the contractors know.

Premier, this is negligence on a significant scale; you cannot get away from that. The pictorial evidence is clear. We had that information provided to us by very good sources. What we have here is a hole in a fragile, narrow coastal national park created by clearing works which were not needed - and I use the term 'needed' loosely.

A commercial operator who wants to be given the gift of operating inside the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, the Cradle Mountain National Park and the Walls of Jerusalem who, whether it was through careless or reckless disregard, did not cancel the clearing works for the helipad. That is a failure of the commercial operator and it is a failure of Parks. The consequence of that failure is a hole in the national park without vegetation on it that is about 20 metres by 20 metres in scale.

There is a problem here. It is untrue to say that clearing is consistent with the objectives of the Tasman National Park management plan. Surely the objectives of that management plan are to protect the natural and cultural values of the park. What has happened here is there has been destruction of the natural values of the park - needless, heedless damage.

The Premier needs to go back to whoever has provided him with his advice and get the facts, because Google Earth tells us what the story is. People who understand and who have worked in that field understand what has happened here. What has happened here is a disgrace. It is breathtaking in its carelessness and this is the consequence of letting commercial developers inside protected areas without the most robust management plans that prioritise the protection of natural and cultural values without proper oversight from the Parks and Wildlife Service, rather than making the Parks and Wildlife Service the enabler for tourism.

There has been no sanction, as I understand it, against the Tasmanian Walking Company for this destruction. We have seen more pictures this afternoon prohibiting public access because it is a revegetation site. Of course it is a revegetation site - it has been clear-felled and it did not need to be. If the Tasmanian Walking Company had taken the care to tell the contractors the works were not needed anymore you would not have a 20 metre by 20 metre hole in the Tasman National Park. There should be a sanction on that operator. They were given exclusive operating rights of the Three Capes Track and they failed to properly look after the park. Through the people of Tasmania, through a process which does not have consultation embedded in it and is not transparent, the Tasmanian Walking Company wants to be given the all-clear to go into the Walls of Jerusalem National Park. Are you serious?

You need to understand, Premier, why people are becoming alarmed at what is happening in national parks in Tasmania. It is because of the damage that is done to natural and cultural values, the damage that is done to wilderness and the apparent lack of sanction when that damage is done. It is one thing to have formalised damage through a corrupted Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area Management Plan, and I say corrupted in its intent and its objects, but it is quite another to have another to have damage that is caused by lousy governments, a failure to properly work with commercial operators who are making money out of public protected areas.

Premier, I ask you to come back into the House at the next opportunity and set the record straight about this damage. I do not think you, in your heart, want to be responsible for this. The Tasmanian Walking Company, as I understand it, is taking international media out to show off their private lodges in the park tomorrow. A VIP tour early next week, and I bet you do not show them the helipad site that will never have a helicopter landed on it. I will bet you they do not show them the clear-fell site they are responsible for. Is it a gold standard ecotourism operator? In this instance, no way.