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Tourism – Lake Malbena

Cassy O'Connor MP

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Monday, 23 November 2020

Tags: Lake Malbena, Parks EOIs, Parks

Ms O'CONNOR - Premier, you would be aware that there is huge public unrest over your Government's decision to privatise Halls Island and Reg Hall's Hut for a total to the proponent, potentially, of $115 per week - a whole island in the World Heritage Area.

This is opposed by the Fishers and Walkers Against Helicopter Access, the Tasmanian Wilderness Society, Planning Matters Alliance, the Tasmanian National Parks Association, the Tasmanian Conservation Trust, Anglers Alliance, Aboriginal Heritage Centre, the Wilderness Guides Association, numerous bushwalking clubs and numerous angling clubs. This has caused extreme stress amongst people who love the wilderness, and now we have the statement of reasons from the federal Environment minister which shows that it will have significant impact on wilderness should the Lake Malbena proposal go ahead.

Would the minister be doing you a favour if the federal government knocked the Lake Malbena proposal on the head?

Mr GUTWEIN - That is going through the planning process and EPBC Act, and that process is just another step along the way.

Ms O'CONNOR - Do you have any regrets about alienating so many community groups? They do not feel heard. They feel shut out of their own public protected area.

Mr GUTWEIN - My understanding of that proposal, the Woodley, was that public access would still be allowed. In fact -

Ms O'CONNOR - No, people can be arrested for trespass. That is untrue.

CHAIR - Order, Ms O'Connor.

Ms O'CONNOR - The Premier did not understand the reality of what happens on Halls Island.

CHAIR -No, Ms O'Connor, you are asking very long questions and we do have much time.

Mr GUTWEIN - My understanding was that public access was to be allowed, I thought, to the same extent as it had been in the past. If Mr Evans wants to jump in if there is anything further? Something the proponent has made very clear regarding the environment and the provision of services on that island is that by providing additional facilities for those people who visit, the outcome, I understood, would be significantly better.

Ms O'CONNOR - Are you serious? You are going to try this crap?

Mr GUTWEIN - It is not about crap, it is part of the proposal.

CHAIR - Order. The call goes to Mr Ellis.

Ms O'CONNOR - Having a private development on the island would be better for the environment?

CHAIR - The call goes to Mr Ellis.

Mr GUTWEIN - It is part of the proposal that was brought forward in the way waste would be managed -

Ms O'CONNOR - You need to read Sussan Ley's statement of reasons carefully.

Ms O'CONNOR - Premier, we were talking earlier about Halls Island.

Mr GUTWEIN - I am glad you brought me back to that; I now have my briefing paper, I am ready to engage.

Ms O'CONNOR - That is good, so you were actually trying to tell us that the environment would be in a better state there with more people on it, and huts, and about 240 helicopter flights a year. I wanted to draw your attention to, in the minister, Ms Ley's statement of reasons she talks about a wilderness quality assessment that was undertaken by the Parks and Wildlife Service, and another one that was undertaken by Mr Martin Hawes, who is an expert. She looked at both of them and she found this:

I accept that these assessments provide a useful demonstration of the possible extent of the impacts on exceptional natural beauty associated with the relatively undisturbed nature of the property and the scale of the undisturbed landscapes. I found that the anticipated loss of 700 hectares of high quality wilderness area and the reduction in wilderness quality over at least 4200 hectares would constitute a significant impact on these key values and attributes.

She closes off towards the end, saying:

Having considered the advice and the recommendation brief and the attached material, I found that the impact on the world heritage values of the TWWA from the use of helicopters is likely to be significant.

Premier, do you have any regrets about the expressions of interest process, given how many people and groups it has alienated, given the fact that it has been exposed as degrading wilderness values in the federal environment minister's statement of reasons?

Mr GUTWEIN - That process is still ongoing.

Ms O'CONNOR - I asked you to consider her words, though.

Mr GUTWEIN - I am going to make no comment in terms of a process that is still alive. I want to return that comment I made about public access. According to the advice I have before me, access to Halls Island remains available to members of the public. The proponents have released a public access program that allows for ongoing public access at higher levels than historical records indicate. The program allows access to the private hut at no charge and further, the proponents will be providing full camping facilities for the benefit of public users and to ensure the protection of the environment. The annual cost required to provide the public use toilet facilities will be covered by the owners for the benefit of the environment and public users.

Ms O'CONNOR - Did you want to confirm, perhaps, that anyone who goes to the island will need permission from the developer?

Mr GUTWEIN - In terms of public access and the arrangements, I do not have that other detail here in front of me, but the point I was making is that public access is still provided for and allows for public access at a high level of historical records.

Ms O'CONNOR - The island is privatised. It's effectively owned by Mr Hackett.

CHAIR -Order, Ms O'Connor.