The Greens today tabled a leaked copy of the National Parks and Wildlife Advisory Committee’s (NPWAC) submission to the Federal Government on the proposal to build permanent huts and allow up to 120 helicopter flights and landings at Lake Malbena in the Walls of Jerusalem.*
The advice is clear that, like fly fishers and other recreational users of the Walls and the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, the government’s key advisory body on management of protected areas does not support this Expressions of Interest proposal.
NPWAC is – under law – a key advisor to government on developments in protected areas, and when we questioned the Premier in Parliament this morning, he dismissed their concerns, obviously not for the first time.
In July this year, NPWAC told the Federal Government, “NPWAC does not support this project progressing at this time and reiterates that contentious projects such as this should not be considered until there is an agreed framework to guide assessment.”
Yet, they – like their State Liberal counterparts – ignored the advice of experts and ticked this intrusive private development off.
It is certain NPWAC gave the State Liberal Government the same advice, that was ignored in approving this highly contentious project. In the interests of openness and transparency, the Premier and Minister for Parks must release advice provided to the flawed, opaque State approval process.
The Premier tried to tell Parliament this morning that this project has been extensively consulted. That is a lie. The only opportunity for public consultation on this proposal was initiated via the Federal process three months ago, almost three years after it was approved to lease and license by the State Liberals.
The fix was further put in when the TWWHA Management Plan was changed – after the public consultation period – to carve out Lake Malbena from the ‘wilderness’ zone. Tasmanians had no opportunity to comment on this proposal until a short time ago, and by then the deal had been effectively stitched up.
Mr Hodgman must explain why the advice of people with expertise in Parks management and protection has been ignored by two levels of government in order to allow the degradation of wilderness values at Lake Malbena in the Walls of Jerusalem National Park.
This leaked document from the government’s own advisory council makes it plain the decision to approve this proposal at two levels of government was not based on sound advice about the impact on wilderness of allowing luxury huts and up to 120 helicopter flights and landings at Lake Malbena in the Walls of Jerusalem National Park.
The Premier, whose legacy increasingly looks to be the degradation and privatization of wilderness and protected areas, must explain to Tasmanians why that advice was ignored twice over.