The ongoing attempts by the Tasmanian government to encourage commercial developments in the state’s national parks and wilderness areas continues. While the high profile ‘helicopter tourism’ proposal planned for Lake Malbena on the Central Plateau has dominated the conversation in the last few months, a broader threat to the integrity of the reserve system is becoming apparent.

This relates to the draft Land Use Planning and Approvals Amendment (Major Projects) Bill 2020, which could facilitate these type of developments by ‘fast tracking’ such proposals.

The Wilderness Society condemned the Tasmanian Liberal Party’s ‘plan to strip away Tasmania’s already questionable planning safeguards, to further reduce the public’s role in planning and fast-track development proposals in national parks’.

They say there are ‘30 or so national park privatisation proposals’ (commercial tourism) in the pipeline for the World Heritage Area’. If this legislation gets through parliament, there is a fear that many of these proposals could be fast-tracked and with very little opportunity for the public to have input to the decision making process.

They say:

“Peter Gutwein’s plan to strip planning safeguards is a developer’s dream, a resident’s nightmare and with regards to the public’s role in planning it says ‘get stuffed’,” said Tom Allen for the Wilderness Society Tasmania.

“The draft Land Use Planning and Approvals Amendment (Major Projects) Bill 2020 is misleading because it could apply to projects like the Lake Malbena niche luxury tourism proposal, pull them out of the planning system and force them on local communities, despite a complete lack of social licence.

“Despite the Lake Malbena proposal being rejected by the local council, the community and facing multiple legal challenges, the ‘major projects’ legislation could be used to get the project up regardless.

“There are 30 or so national park privatisation proposals in the pipeline for the World Heritage Area. If this legislation gets up, these could be fast-tracked and the public ignored. Mr Gutwein may as well get in his bulldozer and pave paradise himself.

“There isn’t a local community anywhere on the island that wants less of a say in planning decisions, but this is what the proposed legislation would do.

“The Tasmanian way of life hinges on the liberty to roam in wild places, yet it is again under attack from the Tasmanian Liberal Party. To protect the Tasmanian way of life, Parliament should reject this legislation,” said Mr Allen.

IMAGE (via TWS website): ‘The untouched wilderness of Lake Malbena’. Image: Rob Blakers.