The Tasmanian Conservation Trust has for the second time this year exposed the Parks and Wildlife Service for misleading the Tasmanian pubic in changes to a National Park management plan. The PWS has proposed changes to the Tasman National Park management plan to allow commercial helicopter handlings on Tasman Island, but during the public consultation process, it failed to explain that the consequence of this change would also make the historic buildings on the island open for redevelopment for commercial accommodation. The PWS did not explain that without helicopter access no tourist operator would risk taking customers to the island by boat.
The TCT understand that the PWS has spoken with commercial operators interested in using the historic buildings and that the PWS is expected to fund the building upgrades. The period for public comment on the proposed changes to the Tasman National Park plan closed yesterday. TCT Director Peter McGlone said today that "it is a very serious corruption of process for the PWS to fail to explain that allowing commercial helicopter access will facilitate commercial development of important historic buildings on Tasman Island. "This is a serious omission and is highly misleading and is sufficient to warrant the current consultation process being restarted.
"This will facilitate the privatisation of publicly owned historic heritage, which is outrageous in itself, but to make these changes in secret is astonishing. Questions must be asked on the Minister Matthew Groom. "What did the Minister know? Will he rule out public money being use to privatise public heritage? Will he restart the consultation process? This abuse of public process over Tasman Island follows the debacle with the proposed changes to the Freycinet National Park Management Plan earlier this year, where the public information about the extent of the zoning change at Coles Bay was grossly misleading. In our view this amplified public concern and was a contributing factor to the proponent withdrawing its proposal. The period for public comment on the proposed changes to the Tasman National Park plan closed yesterday.
As well as raising the issue of historic buildings, the TCT's submission stated our opposition to commercial helicopter landings due to; - unacceptable and unmanaged impacts on sea eagles and other sea birds; - impacts on the enjoyment of the national park by other users; - an increased risk of uncontrolled fire from tourists smoking cigarettes, which threatens native vegetation and bui ldings; - most importantly, a greatly increased risk of the introduction of invasive species in particular rats and mice which are currently absent from the island.
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