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Wednesday, 14 October 2015
Page: 7608


Senator McKIM (Tasmania) (12:59): I rise today to congratulate Senator Richard Colbeck on his appointment as Minister for Tourism and Minister for International Education. I have written to Minister Colbeck to that effect, congratulating him on those appointments and pointing out that those areas are in fact key competitive advantages for Tasmania. But I have also taken the chance in my letter to Senator Colbeck to make sure that he is aware of research that has been published by Tourism Tasmania which shows that by far the most important driver of tourists and visitors making the decision to visit Tasmania is in fact Tasmania's world-class wilderness. That finding was published by Tourism Tasmania in its motivations research in 2011 and it found:

The greatest trigger to influence intention to visit Tasmania was wilderness.

In fact, wilderness was nearly double the next most important driver or trigger of influencing people's intentions to visit Tasmania. I wanted to make sure that Senator Colbeck understood the importance of wilderness in Tasmania as an absolute foundation stone of the tourism portfolio that he now holds in this Turnbull government. I have asked to consider abandoning his previous strong anti-wilderness agenda. He did actually play an integral role in trying to shrink down the size of the United Nations listed Tasmanian wilderness World Heritage area not all that long ago, and urged him to do everything that he can to protect and enhance wilderness values in Tasmania.

I have also taken the chance to invite Senator Colbeck to join with me in a tour of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area so that he can get a better appreciation of the values of this beautiful, magnificent, carbon-rich part of Tasmania and its importance in underpinning the future of the tourism sector on our beautiful island. I have explained to him that I would love to visit those areas with him and suggested that if he would do me the honour of accepting my invitation, he may get an improved appreciation of why the tenure of those areas should be enhanced as recommended in a draft decision of the World Heritage Committee earlier this year, why logging in those areas should be banned as recommended by the World Heritage Committee in its draft decision earlier this year and why mining should be prohibited in those areas, again, as recommended by the World Heritage Committee in its draft decision earlier this year.

It is worth placing on the record the significant concerns that the United Nations has around the Tasmanian government's draft management plan for that area. Might I add, this is a Tasmanian government led by a Premier, Will Hodgman, who is on the record in budget estimates committees in the Tasmanian parliament in answer to questioning from me when I was a member of that parliament, when I said to him:

Premier, would you agree it is not possible to log and mine in wilderness areas without compromising wilderness values.

Mr Hodgman said:

No.

To which I said:

So you think you can log and mine in a wilderness area without compromising wilderness values?

And Mr Hodgman said:

I think you can.

So we have got a Premier who might understand the cost of everything and the price of everything but he clearly understands the true value of nothing and he certainly does not understand wilderness values. So his government has put in place a draft management plan which comprehensively fails to protect the outstanding natural values, the outstanding universal values that have been identified by the United Nations inside the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. And that management plan has caused significant concern to the World Heritage Committee, which, in its draft decision earlier this year, raised concerns around a number of changes that are being proposed in the draft management plan and actually said:

They would appear to directly threaten the protection of the outstanding universal values of the property.

Those include the fact that the Wilderness Zone is proposed to be removed entirely by the state government and replaced by something that they call a 'Remote Recreation Zone'. The committee was also concerned that the plan appears to create potential for logging operations in the property as I mentioned earlier. The report said:

It needs to be recalled that the World Heritage Committee has repeatedly reiterated its position that mineral exploration and exploitation is incompatible with World Heritage status.

In its draft decision the committee also urges the state party to review the proposed new management plan for the property to ensure that it provides adequate protection for its outstanding universal values including: recognition of the wilderness character of the property as one of its key values … recognition of the cultural attributes of the outstanding universal values; and the establishment of strict criteria for new tourism developments within the property.

In relation to extractive industries, the World Heritage Committee, in its draft decision, said it:

Further urges the State Party to ensure that commercial logging and mining are not permitted with the entire property, and that all areas of public lands within the property's state boundaries, including regional reserves, conservation areas and future potential production forest lands have a status that ensures adequate protection of the outstanding universal of the property.

We have now at a Commonwealth level a tourism minister who in the past has been integrally involved in a direct attack on the Tasmanian wilderness World Heritage area and, therefore, on the wilderness values of Tasmania as a destination for visitors and tourists. I say to him: it is now time, given his ministerial appointment at minister for tourism, for him to join with the Greens in fully appreciating the wilderness values in Tasmania. And it is time for him to come to a comprehensive understanding that in fact it is by protecting and enhancing wilderness in Tasmania that we can truly provide the foundation for long-term sustainable growth in our tourism sector on our beautiful island.

So it is incumbent on Senator Colbeck to get with the program; to urge the Tasmanian government to withdraw its fatally flawed draft management plan; to ensure that the wilderness zone is reinstated; to ensure that the new draft plan properly lists the characteristics of the wilderness World Heritage area that qualify it for the seven criteria of outstanding universal values in this area; to ensure that the plan has as its primary focus the protection and enhancement of natural and cultural heritage values and wilderness values within the World Heritage area; and to ensure that it in fact rules out extractive industries like logging and mining, as requested by the World Heritage Committee in their draft decision earlier this year.

I can also indicate to the Senate that we have been in touch with the World Heritage Committee. I will be meeting, along with some of my Greens colleagues, with the World Heritage Committee when their reactive mission arrives in Tasmania later this year. I look forward to briefing them on the problems with the Tasmanian government's draft management plan. I can only hope that Senator Colbeck will visit the wilderness areas of Tasmania with me and join me in protecting the wilderness values.