Leaked documents show Tasmania’s national parks advisory body argued against a controversial eco-tourism development supported by the State and Federal Governments.
- The Federal and State Governments were advised to turn down wilderness tourism proposal by Tasmania’s parks council
- The parks advisory council has concerns about the camp buildings and the impact on other anglers
- Premier Will Hodgman insists the proposal underwent a “rigorous assessment process”
The plans for the fly-in, fly-out luxury camp at Lake Malbena in Tasmania’s Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA) include a helipad, accommodation buildings, kitchen and toilet facilities.
The proposal, by tourism operators Daniel and Simone Hackett, would also allow for 120 helicopter flights each year to access to a “standing camp” camp on Halls Island in the Walls of Jerusalem National Park.
It has been approved by state and federal authorities, and the final say will rest with the Central Highlands Council.
The Greens tabled a submission in State Parliament on Tuesday from the National Parks and Wildlife Advisory Council (NPWAC), the body that provides advice on TWWHA management to the Tasmanian and Commonwealth Governments.
“NPWAC does not support this project progressing at this time, and reiterates that contentious projects such as this should not be considered until there is an agreed framework to guide assessment,” the chair, Malcolm Wells, wrote in the submission.
The submission was made to the Federal Government in July, prior to it approving the project in September.
Concerns about island camp buildings ‘ignored’
Among the NPWAC’s concerns were the permanency of the proposed buildings, the impact of the helicopter flights and the ability of the ecosystem to recover from the use of the site.
“The proponent does not address the fundamental concern that the proposal is for a development with several buildings, not a ‘standing camp’,” the submission said.
“The proponent states that the standing camp will be ‘rested’ from June to September … This is not a time when natural vegetation recovery can occur.”
The Hall Island development was not a “standing camp”, the parks advisory council says. (Supplied: Kathy Van Dulleman)
Under changes to the TWWHA management plan in 2016, the area around Lake Malbena was changed from a “wilderness zone” to a “self-reliant recreation zone”.
The NPWAC said the planned buildings were “incompatible for the self-reliant recreation zoning”.
The plan has attracted opposition from recreational fishers and NPWAC said it had taken note of their concerns.
“Lake Malbena is understood to be between two high-quality wild fishing sites where the visitor experience will be seriously impacted by regular helicopter activity,” the submission read.
Greens leader Cassy O’Connor said she believed identical advice had been provided to the State Government.
“We are certain that the council gave the same advice to the Premier,” she said.
“That advice has been ignored twice over in the interest of private development in the World Heritage Area.”
There were also concerns the helicopter operation would disturb other anglers. (Supplied: Dept Environment and Energy)
Premier defends assessment process
The Wilderness Society said in a statement it was concerned to hear of the NPWAC’s opposition.
“Somehow, this contentious project and its impacts on wilderness values and the experience of others is waved through against the Government’s own expert advice,” spokesman Vica Bayley said.
Premier Will Hodgman said he supported the project and had confidence in the assessment process.
“Proposals undergo a rigorous assessment process,” he said.
“Any proposal recommended to proceed is then required to go through requisite Commonwealth and state planning and approvals processes,” he told Parliament.
Daniel Hackett has been contacted for comment.