Media Releases - 01 June 2021

Tourism Masterplan waters down the protection of wilderness values

Walls of Jerusalem National Park. Image: Jimmy Cordwell.
  • The Tourism Masterplan released today waters down the protection of wilderness values.
  • Talking up wilderness, World Heritage and Aboriginal cultural values while pushing ahead with parks privatisation is disingenuous 
  • If the Govt is serious about the island being a global ecotourism destination it needs to ditch its parks privatisation policy 

“Yesterday we saw a national Roy Morgan poll that showed most people, across the political spectrum, want wilderness protected - including 86% of Coalition voters - and that most people oppose national park privatisation,” said Tom Allen for the Wilderness Society Tasmania.  

“Today, the State Liberal Government has released its Tourism Masterplan for the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA), which looks beautiful, is full of warm statements - and is completely divorced from reality. 

“While talking up wilderness, World Heritage and palawa culture, in reality, on the ground, the State Government is privatising national parks, degrading wilderness and ignoring the community, who are being excluded from their national parks and who oppose parks privatisation. 

“If I visit the public World Heritage Halls Island on Lake Malbena, I could be arrested. This is the reality the Masterplan seeks to gloss over. 

“The new Tourism Masterplan is lipstick on the parks privatisation pig.  

“Read the Masterplan and you quickly see its disconnect from reality leads to a host of deceptive and downright surreal statements. 

“The Tourism Masterplan talks about respecting the palawa-pakana peoples and yet the island’s First Peoples, including the Tasmanian Aboriginal Heritage Council, are routinely ignored on parks privatisation, in opposing Lake Malbena and on off-road tracks throughout takayna/Tarkine. Land returns stalled years ago. 

“It also has the audacity to talk about protecting the integrity of wilderness and the TWWHA’s integrity and Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) despite the fact that two wilderness impact assessments - including one by the Parks and Wildlife Service - show that, if Lake Malbena proposal proceeds - it would degrade nearly 5,000ha of World Heritage wilderness. 

“We are concerned that the previous version of the Masterplan committed to PWS monitoring and reporting on 'wilderness values based on a desirable goal of no net loss'.  

"The final version released today removes this commitment in favour of 'monitoring and reporting on wilderness values as part of its periodic reporting obligations'. This is a significant watering down of the Plan’s protection of wilderness values." 

The reality of parks privatisation is that:

  • The community is being ignored and the values of the World Heritage Area are being degraded for proposals that do not offer “an overall net public benefit” with for example, UTAS economics professor Graeme Wells finding that the Lake Malbena proposal offers no net benefit to the State economy.
  • Regional communities that are rejecting parks privatisation are being ignored, noting that when the Central Highlands Council rejected the Lake Malbena proposal, the Government joined with the proponent Wild Drake to try to overrule its decision. 
  • The Plan offers no meaningful metrics or solutions to managing carrying capacity of destinations 
  • Talks about the importance of tranquility and that noise pollution outside the World Heritage Area will increase - written next to a photograph of a helicopter - while the Government, supported by the Parks and Wildlife Service, is supporting at least one and possibly more helicopter tourism proposals inside the World Heritage Area. 

“If the State Government is serious about the island being a global ecotourism destination, it needs to stop privatising national parks and start listening to the vast majority of people who oppose it; stop subordinating conservation to tourism and start prioritising conservation values. That would carry the island’s nature tourism, and much else besides,” said Mr Allen. 

For further comment contact Tom Allen on 0434 614 323