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Wednesday, 27 June 2018
Page: 35


Senator McKIM (Tasmania) (13:05): Something is deeply wrong in the state of Tasmania. Our precious places, our wilderness, our Crown land, our national parks and our World Heritage area are being locked up, packaged up and sold like trinkets by the Liberal government to the highest corporate bidder. Our wilderness is precious and our Crown lands are precious, as are our national parks and our World Heritage area. Our coastlines, our mountains, our rivers and our forests belong to all of us, and, in the case of the World Heritage area, we hold them in trust for all the people of the world. They're held in trust not only for the people of today, for the people of our state, but for our children and grandchildren. We have a moral obligation to look after them and hand them on intact, with their wilderness values, their natural values, their cultural heritage values and their public access preserved.

They do not belong to the Liberal Party. They do not belong to Will Hodgman, the Premier of Tasmania, who, in a massive conflict of interest, has taken on the portfolios of parks and tourism at the same time. They do not belong to the corporate mates of the Tasmanian Liberal Party or their corporate donors. Tasmania and our precious places are not theirs to sell. But, at the moment, they're up for sale. In fact, some have already been sold off. They've carved up parts of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area and set them aside for exclusive private development, locking the Tasmanian people out of the World Heritage area.

They've used dodgy mechanisms, like the dodgy rezoning to allow for a development at Lake Malbena to go ahead. The original draft management plan would have prohibited the development that is now proposed there; but, when the final plan came out, the boundaries were magically moved, and now that development is able, potentially, to proceed. We will fight that one all the way and, in doing so, we'll stand not only with the conservation movement and Tasmanians who are concerned about privatising our precious places and a lack of public access but also with the fly-fishing community in Tasmania, who value Lake Malbena and its surrounding areas as one of the great fly-fishing territories in the world. They don't want to see it ruined by multiple helicopter flights on a regular basis and a private development that will create an exclusivity where, currently, there is public access.

They want to put a massive cable car on kunanyi/Mount Wellington, which is supported by the Liberal and Labor parties in Tasmania. They want to build another privately-run cable car inside the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. There have been multiple developments approved under a dodgy, secretive process, and special favours given to privatise public land under an expressions-of-interest process run by the Coordinator-General, who, this week in budget estimates in the Tasmanian parliament, refused to say which areas of Crown land are on the chopping block and even refused to answer questions about how much Crown land in total is at risk of being privatised and the public locked out from.

Once you get past the greenwashing that the government is engaged in, the massive number of private corporate developments that have been proposed in our wilderness, in our national parks, on our Crown land and in our World Heritage Area amounts to a selling off of some of the most precious parts of our state. Of course, some of the most precious parts of our state are also some of the most precious parts of our planet. In the case of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage area, we hold that in trust for every single person on this planet and for future generations. The Liberal government, under Will Hodgman, knows the price of everything but the value of nothing. They don't understand value unless they can put a dollar figure on it. And the only way they are interested in putting a dollar figure on it as if one of their corporate mates—and, in many cases, their corporate donors—approaches them with a secret proposal to develop on our coastline, in our forests, on our rivers and in our highlands.

What is happening in Tasmania is a microcosm of what is happening around the country and in many parts of the world. This is fundamentally the problem Western democracies are facing right now: politicians are giving away power to corporate boardrooms. In doing so, they are disenfranchising the people they are supposed to represent in parliaments like this one and the Tasmanian parliament. We are seeing corporate donations flow in and we are seeing outcomes flow from the politicians to their corporate mates who donate so generously because they know it buys them outcomes. What is the result of this? The result is the two great problems facing our planet and humanity and, in particular, Western liberal democracies. The first is environmental degradation and damage, and part of that, obviously, is the greatest crisis in public policy facing humanity, which is climate change. The second part—and these are two sides of the same problematic coin—is people being thrown on the scrapheap and the massive economic inequality which exists and is growing in most Western liberal democracies around the world.

Politicians are giving Tasmania away, effectively for nothing. In doing so, they are locking Tasmanians out of what should be the Tasmanian people's place. What should be owned by the many and able to be accessed by the many is being handed over, yet again, to the wealthy few. We have seen it time after time after time. Have a look at the Cambria Green proposal for Tasmania's east coast—effectively a new town between Swansea and Bicheno that will house over 3,000 people. The locals, rightly and understandably, are up in arms against it. But the old parties can't see past the dollar signs in their eyes. Look at the land in the north-west of Tasmania formerly owned by the Van Diemen's Land Company—some of the most historic land in Tasmania. It is a place where there was indisputably an attempted genocide, run by Van Diemen's Land Company, against the Tasmanian Aboriginal people who lived in the area. It has now been bought by a Chinese company with a loan from the Bank of China, which is wholly owned by the Chinese government. So if there is a default on that loan—and the company, believe you me, is massively struggling financially—that beautiful, historic part of Tasmania, the habitat of Tasmanian devils, that spectacular coastline with threatened species, will be owned, lock, stock and barrel, by the Chinese government. We have been talking about foreign influence in this place this morning, but let's have a look at foreign interests purchasing Tasmania, effectively for nothing—sold off by the Liberals, who know, as I said, the dollar price of everything and the value of nothing. There is a better way.

The Greens have stood up for Tasmania's wild places for a century, and we will continue to do it. We'll always defend Tasmania—the place and our people. We'll stand up for the Tasmanian people's capacity to access some of our most precious places. We will stop the sell-off and we will work to keep our wild places wild. Our forests, rivers, mountains, national parks and world heritage area have to remain in public hands with public access. I say to the Tasmanian people: we will stand with you against this sell-off.