Daniel Hackett (Wild Drake Pty Ltd) is still attempting to obtain approval to construct his proposed helicopter accessed lodge on Halls Island within the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area which has already dragged on for four years following refusal by local government and several attempts to obtain approval under the (federal) Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act).
As part of his ongoing attempt to obtain federal approval he has recently made a call for the public to comment on his proposal. He has apparently been required by the federal government to do this as part of his application for approval under the EPBC Act.
Public consultation is normally undertaken by the government agency assessing a proposal according to a clear, legally defined process. Most importantly: an independent reviewer (a government agency) collects and analyses the comments.
In this case the consultation is being undertaken by the proponent who is obviously not independent. What credibility will it have?
Furthermore, the context of the consultation is unclear – the proponent has published his Response to the federal government’s request for further information but we don’t know what further information was requested.
Is the public being asked to comment on the adequacy of his response or the broader question of the compliance of his proposal with the requirements of the EPBC Act, or what?
The reason for this uncertainty is because the parameters for the consultation were set in correspondence between the federal department and the proponent. One letter has been between these parties has been released under Right To Information but it contains no detail on the required nature of the consultation the proponent must undertake, or how it is to be conducted; surely there must be more that has not been released. Is this consultation what the federal government really intended?
We’ve already had extensive public comment on the original Development Application to Central Highlands Council in 2019 and two rounds of comment on previous applications for EPBC approval, and a lengthy hearing in the Resource Management and Planning Appeal Tribunal, and a federal court case – all demonstrated overwhelming opposition! It’s obvious that this proposal has not got, and is never likely to receive, a social license. It’s not obvious that anything additional will be learned from a further round of consultation.
The Wilderness Society (Tasmania) has written to the federal environment agency to request a halt this current consultation and a review of the process.
If this consultation does continue we will be calling on our supporters to send copies of their comments to both TNPA/TWS and to Federal Environment Minister Plibersek. We hope this will hold Daniel Hackett to his commitment to publish, in full, all comments received, and emphasise to the Minister the farcical nature of the process she (or her predecessor) has unleashed.
We call on our supporters not to legitimise this consultation by submitting a comment until TWS has received a response from Minister Plibersek’s department. The consultation is currently scheduled to end on 19 October so there should be plenty of time to submit a comment in the event that the Minister is not prepared to address the obvious deficiencies of the current process.
Contact: Nick Sawyer (President, TNPA): 0414 718 831