More than a dozen tourism pitches to the Tasmanian government under its expression of interest scheme for national parks, reserves, and Crown Lands are still under assessment, as the process faces renewed criticism by opponents of one of its initial projects.
Information provided by the state government has outlined the status of 47 proposals drawn out by the program since its launch in the wake of the 2014 election.
Twenty-two proposals have been received as part of the second stage, with 17 under assessment by the program’s panel.
The second stage of the program was opened in December 2016 as a continuous process with no deadline.
Since then, 159 applications have been downloaded from the Office of the Coordinator-General’s website.
Demonstrators at a Launceston rally against a proposed Lake Malbena project last month, submitted in stage one of the program, criticised what they described as secrecy and a lack of public consultation.
In a statement issued on Tuesday Tasmanian Greens leader and Parks spokesperson Cassy O’Connor made similar remarks, calling out the “secret” process and the single formal opportunity given to the public to provide feedback
The statement came after decision briefing documents on the project, provided to the federal environment minister and obtained by The Mercury under Freedom of Information laws, revealed none of the public representation received was in support of it.
The documents also showed advice against its approval from the independent National Parks and Wildlife Advisory Council was not referenced.
“The FOI documents make it clear not only was the development approved despite having no public support, the decision was made on the basis of incomplete information,” Ms O’Connor said.
A Federal Court challenge to the decision, lodged by The Wilderness Society, is listed for a procedural hearing next week.
The status of the 30 proposals not under assessment varies, with leases or licences finalised in 12 cases – one has since been surrendered – and a further 13 still under negotiation.
One proposal has been redirected to the Parks and Wildlife service, four others have been withdrawn.
Seven proposals are now operational.
A government spokesperson told The Examiner the EOI process had helped create jobs, grow the state’s reputation as an ecotourism destination and unlock $70 million of investment.
“The projects currently in the EOI pipeline will provide a significant boost to employment in the sector, with the projects expected to create around 230 FTE jobs, if fully realised,” the spokesperson said.
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