News - 15 October 2022
Latest round of Lake Malbena EPBC submissions breaks previous records
More than 3,000 submissions - and counting - via Wilderness Society submissions portal
Strong number of submissions despite people being forced to provide their submissions direct to the proponent
Groups to provide a report, providing all submissions, plus an outline of the sub-standard assessment process to Australia’s Environment Minister & World Heritage Committee
“We are pleased that there’s again been such a strong showing in this latest round of EPBC submissions on the proposed helicopter-accessed lodges at Lake Malbena,” said Tom Allen for the Wilderness Society (lutruwita / Tasmania).
“With a few days left for people to get their submissions in before the 19 October deadline, this is already a clear demonstration of how deeply unpopular this proposal is.”
“It is also an opportunity to make clear that Australia’s Government has to take its World Heritage obligations to one of the most precious areas of wilderness on the planet seriously,” said Mr Allen.
The strong number of submissions is despite the fact the public has been forced to provide their submissions to the very proponent whose scheme we believe most submissions are opposed to. This approach, which institutionalises a conflict of interest, surely deters people who might otherwise have a say and demonstrates a problem with the consultation process.
Groups opposing the parks privatisation push, including the Wilderness Society, Fishers & Walkers Tasmania and the Tasmanian National Parks Association, will provide a report of the assessment process, as well as all the submissions provided, to the Federal Environment Minister, Tanya Plibersek, and to the World Heritage Committee to make clear how substandard this process has been.
“We are confident that, as with every opportunity the public has had to comment on this unpopular proposal, the vast majority of submissions will ask Minister Plibersek not to approve it,” said Mr Allen.
It’s hard not to see these repeated large numbers of people relentlessly opposed as also being an indictment on the Tasmanian Rockliff Government’s equally unpopular parks privatisation policy and the discredited tourism Expressions of Interest process that facilitates it.
“If the Tasmanian Government is still serious about lutruwita / Tasmania being a global leader on nature tourism, parks privatisation is not the way to go,” said Mr Allen.In 2018, there were 1,822 EPBC submissions. Of these, the previous Environment Minister Sussan Ley MP noted in her Statement of Reasons that “no comments are supportive of the proposed action in its current form”. In 2019, there were 1,346 submissions to Central Highlands Council. Three were in support of the proposal.
For further comment contact Tom Allen on 0434 614 323
In 2018, in the Federal Court, the Wilderness Society challenged the Commonwealth (Morrison) Government’s decision not to require an environmental assessment of the Lake Malbena proposal.
We won the Federal Court case, which found that the assessment process had been unlawful under the EPBC Act. This victory required the Commonwealth Environment Minister Sussan Ley (who replaced Melissa Price) to remake her decision.
Ms Ley changed the status of the proposal from “not a controlled action” to a “controlled action” because, as her ‘Statement of Reasons’ made clear - and to her credit - she recognised the impact the proposal would have on wilderness and World Heritage values and natural values, such as the endangered Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagle.
Our Federal Court victory also meant that the EPBC assessment would have to be re-run if the proponent applied again, which it has.