Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Concern over Changes to National Parks Laws Grows

Joint Media Statement           

Public opposition is growing to proposed changes to National Parks laws that will allow new commercial accommodation in national parks. This follows a public meeting of leading environmental activists in Sydney on Thursday night and similar public meetings across the state over the last three months .

The changes to the National Parks and Wildlife Act were agreed by Government when they adopted a report by a task force on tourism and national parks in December last year.

Legislation is expected in the next session of Parliament to weaken both the National Parks and Wildlife Act and the Wilderness Act.

Public meetings have been held so far in Coffs Harbour , Port Macquarie, Wentworth Falls , Bermagui and Canberra and six other locations in Sydney .

All of the meetings unanimously supported resolutions calling for no new private accommodation in national parks and instead supported public investment in national parks with accommodation provided in nearby towns and nearby private lands.

At the meeting in Sydney last night, the speakers debunked the argument that new commercial development in national parks is needed to fund park management or to significantly increase visitor numbers.

“We are determined to stop the weakening of the national park laws”, said Keith Muir.

“There is a growing band of activists who have pledged to organise further action against the changes to the laws.”

“What we want instead is public investment in good walking tracks near major vehicle and public transport access points, rangers on the ground to assist with enhancing the nature experience and basic visitor infrastructure . , said Andrew Cox, executive officer of the National Parks Association ”

“If our national parks offer good experiences and you provide access and promotion to key sights then the people will follow, whether they are local visitors or international tourists.”

“This way the surrounding towns and their businesses with their ready-to-go infrastructure can also share the benefits , without development of national parks .”

“There is a growing band of activists who have pledged to organise further action against the changes to the laws.”

The resolution passed unanimously in Sydney last night is below.

For more information contact: 
Keith Muir, (02) 9261 2400 (wk) or 0412 791 404 (ah) 
Andrew Cox: w (02) 9299 0000; m 0438 588 040


Resolution for Tourism and National Parks Public Meeting 26 Feb 09

This public meeting calls on the NSW Government to:

  1. uphold the primary nature conservation purpose of the National Parks and Wildlife Act and the Wilderness Act;
  2. reject fast track or other special park processes that identify ‘development ready areas' inside national parks for the tourism industry;
  3. ensure wilderness areas remain undisturbed and free of all infrastructure, commercial uses and large numbers of people, where natural processes can thrive and visitors can renew their spirit;
  4. reject all new built accommodation and new private tourism facilities in national parks;
  5. improve Government investment in low impact, well maintained toilets, walking tracks and basic, good quality camping facilities, and for some suitable parks, a visitor centre;
  6. direct built accommodation, visitor support infrastructure and services off park to adjoining towns and appropriate rural areas, as this location will provide the greatest benefit to communities and parks;
  7. keep the cost of visiting these precious areas small, so that parks remain accessible to everyone as the most democratic spaces we have, free of elite commercial precincts;
  8. provide increased funding and support to national parks to ensure protection of conservation values, the provision of quality low-impacting visitor opportunities and the promotion of the experiences offered by national parks.
  9. ensure the public has sufficient opportunity to review and provide input into the management of national parks and any proposed commercial uses.
  10. re-direct planning for nature based tourism in NSW towards these ends.

# National Parks as used here is a generic term for all types of parks reserved under the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Act, 1974.