Plans to reclassify remote Lake Malbena to allow a luxury standing camp have angered anglers and conservationists. (Supplied: Wild Drake/RiverFly1864)
The proponent behind plans for a luxury camp in Tasmania’s wilderness area has accused the Greens of attacking a small family business after revealing the contents of a leaked document.
The Parks and Wildlife document brandished by Greens Leader Cassy O’Connor in Parliament on Tuesday morning revealed a rare insight behind the scenes of the Government’s assessment of commercial projects.
In a climate of rising tension between the conservation movement and the Government over its re-zoning of areas within the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA) to accommodate private tourism developments, Ms O’Connor used Question Time to release the document canvassing a proposal for a standing camp, helipad and guided tourism venture on the remote Lake Malbena in the Central Highlands.
The official Reserve Activity Assessment (RAA) process would normally be conducted behind closed doors and includes candid information about groups and individuals perceived as having an interest in the project in contention.
Daniel Hackett says the leaking of the document was “the height of hypocrisy”. (Supplied: Tasmanian Leaders Inc)
The pitch to allow paying tourists to fly to Halls Island in Lake Malbena by helicopter comes from proponents Daniel and Simone Hackett of company RiverFly 1864, and sits within the Walls of Jerusalem National Park, in the TWHHA.
Among those listed as having an interest in the project, is the Wilderness Society’s Vica Bayley, a vocal opponent of the proposal.
The document shows Mr Bayley’s level of interest as of:
“High concern, primarily related to aerial access and perceived ‘secretive’ EOI process.”
“Seems happy to take an uninformed position.”
It also points to ABC journalist Hilary Burden as being a supporter of the proposal, as well as having “strong links to the Freycinet Action Network, and other Greens-aligned networks.”
The proposal included “cultural immersion” as a “primary theme” and the assessment document also pointed to engagement with the Aboriginal community.
The Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre is listed as:
“Currently supportive and engaged. Very good about providing access through their neighbouring property.”
The Tasmanian Regional Aboriginal Communities Alliance (TRACA) is also listed as “currently supportive”.
The document also makes mention of the Aboriginal Land Council of Tasmania, noted as having an “undetermined” level of support:
” … wary that they may be seeking cash income as a contra for involvement … will seek a further meeting.”
In Parliament, the Greens accused the Government of a “corrupted process” relating to the re-zoning of parts of the TWWHA and demanded it answer the concerns of anglers, described as being “livid” about the Lake Malbena proposal.
Cassy O’Connor used parliament to reveal details of the assessment document. (ABC News: Scott Ross )
The proponents of the proposed projects have previously declined to be interviewed, but on Tuesday night Mr Hackett hit out at Ms O’Connor and said he was trying to focus on the current Federal Government assessment, for which he was “following all due process”.
“Instead, Cassy O’Connor has decided to attack our small family business, along with sensitive environment and Aboriginal culture in the TWWHA by releasing the leaked RAA, which includes my personal financial information and the location of important environmental features in the TWWHA,” Mr Hackett said.
“Even worse, sloppy redacting on her behalf has led to the publishing of highly sensitive Aboriginal culture present in the TWWHA.
“This is the height of hypocrisy and unethical behaviour, and is nothing more than social, environmental and cultural vandalism from Cassy O’Connor as an individual, and The Greens.”
Mr Hackett said the document didn’t include “any new materials relevant to assessments that hasn’t already been released into the public realm through the EPBC referral and public comment,” and “was due for release on the 19th of June, through due process in the form of Right to Information Requests.”
The document also referred to Ms O’Connor herself as having a “low specific interest to the project”, but a high interest “specific to the EOI process”.
“I think she (rightly) believes that the cultural and social benefits of our proposal are worth the trade off”.
“I don’t expect any adverse politics specific to our project, though the EOI process and development in general within the TWWHA is still a live and significant issue for the Greens. Lines of direct communication are open both ways.”
In response, Ms O’Connor said Mr Hackett misrepresented her and that she had written to the Commonwealth to clarify her position.
“The proponent, Mr Hackett and I had a cordial discussion, but ultimately agreed to disagree … it was not an effort at consultation on the part of the proponent, although he did agree to meet with us,” she said in a statement.
Mr Bayley said his position had not been “accurately portrayed”.
The document also noted the proponents may have more trouble getting regular hut users on side, including one well-known angler, who “has a canoe hidden adjacent to the island”… and “may be difficult to manage”.
The ABC has contacted the Parks and Wildlife Service (DPIPWE) for comment regarding the leak.