Coalition ignored experts, waved through Tasmanian development, including helipad

August 2018

The Morrison government waved through approval for a luxury tourist development and helipad in the pristine Tasmanian wilderness despite three official expert bodies lashing the proposal or calling for it to be rejected, according to the Sydney Morning Herald

Days after Melissa Price became Environment Minister in August, the government approved the highly contentious proposed luxury camping resort and helicopter landing pad at Halls Island, in Tasmania’s Walls of Jerusalem National Park.

According to the Nine newspapers, the minister’s delegate, senior department official James Barker, determined that the proposal was unlikely to significantly impact a matter of national environmental importance and did not require federal assessment or approval. Ms Price was advised of the ruling.

However documents obtained by the Wilderness Society under freedom of information laws show that decision contradicted the advice of three government-appointed expert bodies.

The Australian Heritage Council, the federal government’s principal adviser on heritage matters, said “the cumulative impact on world heritage and natural heritage values would be considerable”.

The National Parks and Wildlife Advisory Council, which provides advice on the Tasmanian world heritage area to the state and federal governments, told the department it “does not support this project”.

The Tasmanian Aboriginal Heritage Council, which advises the state government, said the development should not proceed because it was close to a rare heritage site that was only recently rediscovered.

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