The Tasmanian National parks Association (in conjunction with The Wilderness Society and Tasmanian Conservation Trust) boycotted the workshops that provided the main opportunity for public input into the plan although we are confident that our views were adequately represented by several of the participants. The boycott was publicised by a small protest outside the main workshop venue in Hobart in early July.
The main reason for the boycott was to emphasise that this appears to be yet another exercise in going through the motions of consultation after most of the key decisions have already been made. The Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA) Management Plan 2016 is the overarching statutory planning document for the TWWHA and the master plan is subservient, so its recommendations will have only limited influence over developments in the TWWHA. In addition the state government has stated that proposals already submitted through the expression of interest process will not be subject to the master plan.
Perhaps the greatest concern is that the master plan appears predicated on the assumption that the TWWHA exists as a resource for the tourism industry; that it needs to be ‘marketed’ and commercial tourism operators are essential in providing an experience for visitors. This is exemplified by Tourism Industry Council Tasmania (TICT) Director Luke Martin’s oxymoronic media statement following then workshop that helicopter access to wilderness is essential. There is a fundamental clash of paradigms here! This ‘marketing’ approach disregards the long history of wilderness as a place for self-reliant personal experiences in natural environments free from the encumbrances of modern society. Visitors need to experience feelings of respect, humility, restraint, and interdependence that inspire human connection with nature. We need a master plan, and an overarching management plan, that value the essential wilderness quality of the TWWHA.