News - 08 June 2022

Ecological threat of parks privatisation remains, despite Tasmanian Govt’s wilderness tourism tinkering

Walker on the South Coast Track. Image: Jimmy Cordwell.

The Wilderness Society has coolly welcomed proposed minor changes by the Tasmanian Government to its discredited ‘tourism expressions of interest’ process that lets commercial tourism developers into national parks.

In May, the Wilderness Society wrote to the new Tourism Minister Jeremy Rockliff asking him to review his government’s parks privatisation policy.

“Given the near-universal unpopularity of and widespread public opposition to the Hodgman, Gutwein and now Rockliff Government’s continued parks privatisation push, business as usual wasn’t really tenable although these changes don’t go far enough,” said Tom Allen, Tasmanian campaign manager for the Wilderness Society.

“Thanks to the public standing up for their public national parks, these proposed changes are the result of strong, sustained and near-universal public opposition to the parks privatisation push and show the need for stronger Community Rights.

“While everyone else has to abide by the state planning laws and environmental assessment requirements, the tourism EOI process creates a low-bar loophole, through which can waltz commercial tourism operators to exploit some of the most ecologically-important lands anywhere, with minimal obligations or oversight. This makes a mockery of the Tasmanian Government’s aspirations to be a global ‘ecotourism’ leader. They should be raising not lowering the bar for these special places.

“It continues to be unacceptable that the Tasmanian Government solicits commercial tourism proposals that breach the Statutory Management Plan for the world’s highest-rated World Heritage wilderness.

“As ExperienceCo/Wild Bush Luxury’s current plans to commercialise the South Coast Track show, until the Rockliff Government takes the parks privatisation policy and the tourism EOI ‘process’ off the table, the threat to the ecological integrity - and to that of palawa/Aboriginal cultural values - of national parks and World Heritage wilderness remains,” said Mr Allen.

For further comment contact Tom Allen on 0434 614 323

Auditor General’s 2020 report into EOI tourism scheme