Thursday, 6 December 2018
I seek leave to amend general business notice of motion No. 1319 standing in my name for today, relating to Halls Island on Lake Malbena inside the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.
I move the motion as amended:
That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(i) a proposal was lodged with the Tasmanian Government for a fly-in, fly- out 'luxury standing camp' on Halls Island in Lake Malbena, inside the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. The proposal is for the construction of three accommodation huts and a kitchen hut to accommodate up to 6 guests and 2 guides on up to 30 trips per year. Guests and guides will be transported to Lake Malbena by helicopter. Estimates of total helicopter flights per year range from 30 to 120. Officials from the Department of Environment and Energy are unaware of the total number of helicopter flights per year when construction, maintenance and servicing of the camp are also considered,
(ii) in the last week of August this year, the Department of the Environment and Energy declared the activity would not be a controlled action under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the Act). Controlled action simply means that the proposal would proceed to the next step in the process - environmental assessment and approval – as significant impacts are likely,
(iii) in its 2016 Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Master Plan, the Tasmanian Government re-zoned Lake Malbena and much of the surrounding shoreline from "wilderness" to "self-reliant recreation zone" allowing greater development and activity at the site. This rezoning was done without public consultation. The proposal has been deemed compliant with the 2016 Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Management Plan on the basis of 'low level impact' on wilderness character. Many submissions noted that such a conclusion would not have been possible without the 2016 re-zoning,
(iv) over 900 submissions to the referral under the Act opposed the development. Three submissions did not express a position. No submissions expressed support. Independent advisory body the National Parks and Wildlife Advisory Committee do not support this development, and have, along with the Australian Heritage Council, highlighted its likely impacts on wilderness, other World Heritage values and the tranquillity of this remote precinct,
(v) the Anglers Alliance Tasmania, representing 27,000 recreational anglers, and the Wilderness Society, representing over 30,000 conservationists, also strongly opposed the development in its submission on similar grounds. The Anglers Alliance Tasmania and Wilderness Society expressed strong concerns that the development has been approved without any consideration of the voice of submitters to the referral process, such as recreational anglers and conservationists, who addressed relevant matters under the Act,
(vi) the development is also opposed by the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre,
(vii) an independent wilderness consultant's report commissioned by the Wilderness Society found that the proposal would have a significant negative impact on the area's wilderness character by degrading wilderness across almost 50 square kilometres, including well into the Walls of Jerusalem National Park, and
(viii) the Brief prepared by the Department of Environment and Energy was completed by the Queensland North section and included a typographical error where "Queensland" was stated instead of "Tasmania"
(b) agrees that the Minister for the Environment should declare the project a controlled action and properly instigate a full assessment, including public participation from recreational anglers, conservationists and any other interested parties, of the proposal's impacts on World Heritage values, including wilderness.
In assessing the proposal under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, the Department of Environment and Energy invited two rounds of public comment. The department considered that the proposal is not likely to have significant impacts on the nationally protected environmental matters, including the value of the World Heritage area. The proponent has agreed to strict measures to avoid impacts on the area, including capturing all grey water sewage.