I have become extremely concerned about the increasing threat to National Parks around Australia. From opening Parks up to cattle grazing in drought affected areas of Queensland to shooting of game and recommendations for logging in NSW, to the attempt at cattle grazing in alpine areas and now prospecting in Parks in Victoria. At a federal level there was an attempt to scuttle the management plans for the new Marine Parks and a statement that they will be changed with a change of government.
I think many of us who have been involved in the movement to promote National Parks declared in areas of great natural significance, believed this was the best way to ensure that these areas would be managed to maximise the survival of their biodiversity and natural beauty for future generations to enjoy. I no longer believe that we can feel so reassured and we are required yet again to fight for the survival of our National Parks.
As members will know we have written to the relevant ministers and the Premier regarding our concerns at the proposal to allow private development in National Parks. Recently we have been approached from Friends of the Prom. to join them in a letter writing campaign to show the government that there is a ground swell of opposition to this proposal. FOGG committee agreed we should join this campaign.
Further concerns are with the Guidelines the government has approved for Tourism Investment Opportunities of Significance in National Parks.
While these guidelines are peppered with fine sounding words of “complements local environmental heritage”, “environmentally sensitive investment opportunities” and “ proper community consultation” The key guideline seems to be that these proposals will need to generate a “net public benefit” and yet nowhere in the document is there any attempt to explain how this is to be determined.
This is a five stage process
Stage 1. Pre Proposal Information.
Stage 2. Preliminary Concept assessment.
Stage 3. Public Notification and in principle approval by minister.
Stage 4. Full Proposal.
Stage 5. Lease Negotiation and Preparation.
This ensures that the public have no opportunity for input before the proposal is well developed in consultation with the assessment agency and the minister.
The public is then given 28 days to comment on “the interaction of the proposal investment opportunity with :-
local values and the local economy
local Aboriginal cultural and historical heritage
existing public access and use”
No opportunity to mention any of the environment or biodiversity concerns the public might have.
We would like to encourage you to get as many people as possible to use this material and the letter we have already sent to the minister to express their own concerns about this proposal (see last newsletter). There is more information available via VNPA (Victorian National Parks Association). We know one original letter counts for many form letters, and at this time believe it will be our most effective action.
Just in is the news that apparently there is a serious move to apply to build a cable car from the Brambuk precinct to the Pinnacle. This idea has been floated before, but this time there is more money behind it, and of course government encouragement of this kind of development. It looks like those guidelines are going to be put to the test.