Media Releases - 18 September 2020

Wilderness Defence Fund launched to help fund Lake Malbena legal case

Halls Island, Lake Malbena in Walls Of Jerusalem National Park. Image: Rob Blakers.
  • Fund to help the Wilderness Society Tasmania’s current challenge to Tasmania’s Full Court of the Supreme Court on 2 October and the campaign to protect wilderness 
  • The ultimate goal of the legal challenge is to keep World Heritage Halls Island on Lake Malbena inside Walls of Jerusalem National Park public, thriving and unspoiled
  • Target of the new Wilderness Defence Fund is to raise $60,000 by November 2020
  • Wild Drake’s Lake Malbena proposal is the first of a slew of commercial tourism developments that would privatise the World Heritage Wilderness Area 
  • Yesterday the Commonwealth Environment Minister announced that the Lake Malbena proposal will need to be assessed under national  environment law 

The Wilderness Society Tasmania has launched a Wilderness Defence Fund to keep Tasmania’s World Heritage and national parks accessible for the many, not just the few. 

The Fund will be used to mount a challenge in Tasmania’s Full Court of the Supreme Court, appealing planning permissions granted to helicopter-accessed visitor accommodation at Halls Island, Lake Malbena, which lies within the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. 

“It is legal challenges like this which are stopping Tasmania’s epic World Heritage and national parks from being inappropriately developed and privatised to public access. To keep these special places open to the public, thriving and unspoiled, we are asking people to help with this legal challenge and others like it by contributing to the Fund,” said Tom Allen for the Wilderness Society Tasmania. 

“This appeal is holding off the stunningly beautiful World Heritage wilderness at Halls Island, Lake Malbena, from being developed and privatised. There are thought to be more than 30 tourism projects in the EOI tourism pipeline targeted at the World Heritage Area. If they all constructed, Tasmania’s wilderness character would be torpedoed.

“If our current case is successful, it will keep Halls Island and the surroundings public and unspoiled, and protect World Heritage values in the future, for the many, not just the few. It will also provide a powerful reason for the Tasmanian Government to change its singularly unpopular ‘unlock the parks’ policy and the EOI process it created to privatise them. 

“The Government should instead turn its attention to an ecologically sustainable tourism policy that respects local people, ecological integrity, and World Heritage values,” said Mr Allen. 

A legal team comprising the Environmental Defenders Office Ltd and a number of barristers are representing the Wilderness Society, the Tasmanian National Parks Association and two individuals, in the Lake Malbena appeal. The appeal is set to be heard by the Full Court of the Supreme Court on 2 October 2020. The case is an appeal to the full bench of the Supreme Court of a previous decision by Justice Estcourt, which upheld the grant of a development permit for Wild Drake, on Halls Island at Lake Malbena. Details of the current legal challenge can be found here

Yesterday, the Commonwealth Environment Minister Sussan Ley made a decision to assess the Wild Drake helicopter tourism proposal under the EPBC Act. The Minister’s decision follows the Wilderness Society’s successful legal challenge in the Federal Court last year, which overturned the original decision that the project would not be subject to any further assessment. 

“The Commonwealth assessment will now be undertaken on the preliminary documents, and the Wilderness Society expects that will involve a more rigorous assessment of the impacts of the Wild Drake proposal on the World Heritage and ecological values like remoteness, intactness and thriving ecosystems.

“The Wilderness Defence Fund will help us continue to take these important legal challenges to protect Tasmania’s internationally recognised World Heritage from inappropriate development. The fundraising target of $60,000 is a challenge but is a drop in the ocean compared to the value of these places to Tasmania and to the world,” Mr Allen said.

The Wilderness Society is pleased to be attending the public community Malbena Matters! public meeting on Sunday 20 September from 2pm at Miena to discuss the Wilderness Defence Fund and more. The MC and speakers are: 

  • MC Dan Broun - Fishers & Walkers Against Helicopter Access Tasmania
  • Dewayne Everett-Smith - Welcome to Country
  • Sharnie Everett - Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre
  • Tom Allen - The Wilderness Society 
  • Nick Sawyer - Tasmanian National Parks Association
  • Brett Smith - Fishers & Walkers Against Helicopter Access Tasmania
  • Craig Garland - Fisherman / Independent political candidate
  • Greg French - Fly-fisher / author

Contact: Tom Allen, 0434 614 323

Wilderness Defence Fund 

Graphics for media: This folder contains a range of new Malbena campaign graphics (contact us if you need higher resolution versions)