Vanishing opportunities for public involvement in the future of Tasmania’s national parks

 

The Tasmanian government’s desperation to “unlock” the state’s national parks for development despite widespread public opposition is becoming increasingly apparent.

Comment is now closed on two discussion papers released by the state government in January 2024 under the banner of “Reform” of the Reserve Activity Assessment (RAA) process used by the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) to assess development proposals on reserved land.

The intent of the proposed changes appears to be to remove transparency in decision making and any credible opportunity for public involvement in the assessment of a proposed development on reserved land.

  • The proposed “Reform” of the RAA process is an entirely separate alternative to the RAA to fast-track the assessment of large and/or controversial proposals by an “Independent Assessment Panel”. It includes an opportunity for public comment but this is of little value without the crucial right to merits review.
  • The other discussion paper proposed major changes to the currently rigorous process for the preparation and amendment of statutory management plans for reserves. It prioritises short-term flexibility over long-term certainty and reduces the opportunity for public involvement.

In conjunction with ongoing changes to Tasmania’s planning system these proposals represent a major step backwards – we need greater rigor and transparency in decision making – not less!

Meanwhile, no change is proposed to the existing inadequate RAA process which will still apply to the vast majority of development proposals.

The TNPA’s detailed submission can be viewed and downloaded here.

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