Media Releases - 17 June 2021

“We need them to have access to it”: Sussan Ley Backs Principle of Public Access in World Heritage Areas

  • Australia’s Environment Minister Sussan Ley twice queried about Lake Malbena at Press Club in Canberra
  • Minister Ley talks up principle of public access and empowered local communities
  • Minister Ley flags potential that Commonwealth Government will retain oversight of World Heritage Areas if devolution of environment laws to states goes ahead.

    The Wilderness Society Tasmania has welcomed the commitment to the principle of public access in World Heritage areas by Australia’s Environment Minister, Sussan Ley.

    Halls Island on Lake Malbena in Walls of Jerusalem National Park.

    Speaking at the Press Club in Canberra, Minister Ley said, “We teach people so much when they interact with the natural world, we need them to have access to it.”

    Minister Ley was asked two questions about Lake Malbena at her Press Club speech: One by journalist Tim Shaw about how she considers proposals like Lake Malbena “in an environment now where international tourism is not happening”. The second question was from the facilitator, Mark Kenny, who asked, if the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act is devolved to the states, whether proposals like Lake Malbena would be considered by the Commonwealth or state governments.

    “We welcome Minister Ley’s principled recognition of the need for public access, but we need this principle to translate into practice so that Halls Island on Lake Malbena remains public instead of privatised. Today, anyone who visits the formerly public World Heritage island could be arrested,” said Mr Allen.

    “We also welcome Minister Ley’s view that the Commonwealth could continue to have oversight for World Heritage properties,” said Mr Allen.

    In her speech Minister Ley also said: “Personal responsibility, local decision-making, and empowering each person to treat the environment as their own backyard, knowing that governments stand ready to do things with them, not to them, are central themes of our side of politics.”

    “In reality, the Tasmanian Liberal Gutwein Government’s parks privatisation policy is overriding the opposition of local communities to their parks being privatised, is taking away our collective backyard, the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, and is working against, not with, local communities. Clearly something’s out of whack between Ms Ley’s brand of liberalism and that being inflicted on the world’s highest-rated World Heritage wilderness and the local communities who want it protected,” said Mr Allen.

    For further comment: Tom Allen, 0434 614 323