Halls Island

Lake Malbena, Walls of Jerusalem National Park, Tasmania, Australia

In the News

The Mercury - Which wilderness tourism projects pass the jobs test?

19 December 2019 - Any reasonable cost-benefit analysis would set that small benefit of four jobs against the loss in jobs from fishers and bushwalkers who stay away because of helicopter noise. Let alone the degradation of wilderness values for the larger community. Although the loss of value is not readily priced, it is real and it can be estimated using modern valuation techniques. Would the project survive a transparent and comprehensive cost-benefit analysis? Highly unlikely.

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The public is kept in the dark

The Examiner - Truchanas and Dombrovskis widows slam Parks and Wildlife over 'misappropriated' quotes

18 December 2019 - The quotes featured in the state government's Towards a Tourism Master Plan which has drawn the ire of the families of Olegas Truchanas and Peter Dombrovskis.

The widows of pioneering Tasmanian conservationists Olegas Truchanas and Peter Dombrovskis have slammed a government department for using "misappropriated" quotes in a wilderness tourism master plan discussion paper.

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"Olegas and Peter would share our horror at the rush to commercialise wild places, the willingness of government to destroy wilderness and the perversion of process that has put the cart before the horse."

ABC News - National park eco-tourism developments taken to court, with states watching closely

14 December 2019 - The court told the Federal Government to reassess the application, with state and territory governments watching the case closely

The Advocate - Protesters unite over tourist venture on Halls Island, Lake Malbena

8 December 2019 - They gathered at trawtha makuminya at the weekend to protest a proposal to establish four huts on Halls Island in Lake Malbena, where a helicopter would fly up to 30 groups of high-paying visitors to bedrock nearby during 60 days each year.

The Examiner - Tasmanian Government's tourism project scheme drawn into question after Federal Court decision

12 November 2019 - The Federal Court has thrown an eco-tourism venture at Lake Malbena into uncertainty after it called into question the federal government's approval of the project.

The Guadian - Ban on contentious tourism project in Tasmanian world heritage area overturned

22 October 2019 - Both the federal government and the council rejected expert advice in making their respective decisions to approve and block the development.

The council blocked the development, voting six votes to three at a public meeting in February, despite receiving advice from planners that it be approved.

Federally, a environment department assistant secretary acting on behalf of the then environment minister, Melissa Price, last year found the camp was not a threat to matters of national environmental significance despite three expert bodies advising against the development going ahead as proposed.

The National Parks and Wildlife Advisory Council, a state body, expressed concern about opening the world heritage area up to private commercial development with permanent structures and potentially frequent helicopter flights.

The Australian Heritage Council found the development would have considerable impact on world heritage values and warned the buildings, helipad and tracks did not conform to zoning rules. The Tasmanian Aboriginal Heritage Council said the proposed camp was near a recently discovered rare heritage site.

ABC News - Lake Malbena eco-tourism proposal gets the green light from planning tribunal

22 October 2019 - A controversial helicopter-accessed standing camp proposed for the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA) will go ahead after the state's planning tribunal overturned a regional council's attempt to have it blocked.

The Resource Management and Planning Appeal Tribunal (RMPAT) ruled in favour of developer Daniel Hackett's appeal of the Central Highlands Council's rejection of the eco-tourism proposal.

ABC News - Lake Malbena camp proponent flags appeal after council knockback for World Heritage Area plan

28 February 2019 - "we feel strongly that a number of councillors failed in this role."

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Mr Hackett was highly critical of the Tasmanian Greens and conservationists who opposed the project.

ABC News - Lake Malbena camp in World Heritage Area voted down amid applause at council meeting

26 February 2019 - A number of councillors spoke with anger about being forced to make the final decision, with some saying they felt let down by other levels of government.

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The result of the vote was met with cheers from jubilant audience members, with Mr Hackett saying it was too early to say if he would appeal the decision.

ABC News - Aboriginal outrage over Lake Malbena fishing tour plans to include visits to sacred cultural site

27 November 2018 - Tasmanian Aboriginal groups say they have been "sidelined" by both the state and federal governments' decision to greenlight a fly-in-fly-out luxury camp in the heart of Tasmania's remote World Heritage Area.

It is a place considered so sacred that many Tasmanian Aboriginals have never visited it themselves. 

But the development's proponents, Daniel and Simone Hackett, planned to take guests on guided tours of the site — a suggestion that chief executive officer of the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre Heather Sculthorpe finds both offensive and unacceptable.

ABC News - Proposed Lake Malbena tourism development strains World Heritage status and friendships in Tasmania

16 November 2018 - Now a friend who Mr French himself introduced to the spot is proposing to build huts and a helipad in the area for a luxury, fly-in-fly-out tourism retreat.

The Australian - Heritage isle in Tasmania now sanctuary for the rich

27 October 2018 - An entire island inside Tasmania’s Wilderness World Heritage Area has been effectively privatised, with a tourism developer granted an exclusive, secret lease, creating a precedent for further privatisation of wilderness.

The Guardian - Morrison government greenlights luxury camp in Tasmanian world heritage area despite expert advice

17 October 2018 - In advice dated 13 July, the council’s chairman, Malcolm Wells, raised concerns about allowing private commercial use of a world heritage area, a plan to erect permanent structures masquerading as standing camps, the impact of frequent helicopter flights and the potential for conflict with others using the area.

The council said although the project was described as a small standing camp, in reality it would involve several buildings, putting it at odds with the area’s “self-reliant recreation” zoning. It challenged claims by the proponent, Wild Drake, that the site would be “rested” in winter to allow sensitive vegetation in the area to recover.

“This appears to be a pretence at suggesting that the proposed buildings are a ‘standing camp’ that is not accessed all year. However, this is undermined by the next statement that up to five commercial trips (a total of 20 days) may run over this ‘resting’ period,” Wells wrote.

ABC News - Tasmanian parks council advised Government to reject luxury wilderness tourism proposal

17 October 2018 - National Parks and Wildlife Advisory Council (NPWAC) "...does not support this project progressing at this time, and reiterates that contentious projects such as this should not be considered until there is an agreed framework to guide assessment," the chair, Malcolm Wells, wrote in the submission.

The submission was made to the Federal Government in July, prior to it approving the project in September.

The Conversation - Green light for Tasmanian wilderness tourism development defied expert advice

16 October 2018 - Like the World Heritage Committee, NPWAC argued that the range of projects currently proposed for the TWWHA “should not be considered until there is an agreed framework to guide assessment”. Yet despite this, the minister’s delegate allowed the proposal to proceed without further assessment under the EPBC Act.

ABC News - Lake Malbena luxury camping project in Tasmania's wilderness clears federal hurdle

4 September 2018 - the proposal was only consistent with the management plan because the plan was changed to accommodate it.

ABC News - Luxury camp developer lashes Greens over document leak revealing wilderness proposal

13 June 2018 - The pitch to allow paying tourists to fly to Halls Island in Lake Malbena by helicopter... noted the proponents may have more trouble getting regular hut users on side, including one well-known angler, who "has a canoe hidden adjacent to the island"... and "may be difficult to manage".

ABC News - Luxury camp proposal for Tasmanian wilderness sparks furore over rezoning plan

12 June 2018 - there were "30 development proposals including 20 proposals involving permanent huts, lodges and permanent standing camps as well as frequent helicopter flights set for approval in the TWHHA".

"All of these were prohibited under the previous TWHHA Management Plan,"

ABC News - Fly-fishing company's 'luxury' camp plan for Tasmania's Central Highlands raises ire of anglers, Wilderness Society

11 April 2018 - But some have questioned how the fishing camp proposal, with its permanent infrastructure and helipad, has managed to progress to the stage of an arrangement being negotiated when such developments appear to be at odds with the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA) management plan.

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Click here for more media coverage - EDO's PROTECTING WILDERNESS VALUES: HALLS ISLAND