Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Tourism and wilderness at loggerheads

“The tourism industry is playing the states off against each other to build more resorts in national parks.  With our protected areas under attack across Australia, the 6th National Wilderness Conference later this month comes at a critical time,” Keith Muir, director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness, said today.

“In a worrying move, the states are now competing with each other in a race to construct high-end apartments, backpacker accommodation and guest houses in national parks.  The Federal Environment Minister, Mr Tony Burke, must rein in this Mexican auction.  Forget about cutting green tape, the Federal Government now needs to extend its power to stop development of our precious national parks,” he said.

“A race to the bottom really began last month when Queensland and Victoria suddenly deregulated national park development.  New South Wales had taken more modest steps in that direction several years ago, but more deregulation is on the way with the O’Farrell Government reviewing planning laws.  Meanwhile, Tasmania’s tourism industry is attempting to portray itself as missing out on this new opportunity,” Mr Muir said.

“Last week the Chief Executive of the Tourism Industry Council of Tasmanian, Luke Martin, bounced media off the Bailleau Government’s move to encourage development in Victorian national parks.  Mr Martin called for development of Tasmanian national parks so that Tasmania’s wilderness wouldn’t miss out,” said Mr Muir.

To claim that national parks should be developed so that tourists can have a wilderness holiday is just as mad as saying Pitt Street in Sydney should be a wilderness area.  Pitt Street is not a wilderness and national parks are not places for resort development.  They can go outside and benefit from well protected natural areas nearby.  It’s that simple.  Planning isn’t rocket science but it must say where development can’t go, just as much as where it can,” Mr Muir said.

“National parks are set aside for nature and appropriate recreation, and within those bounds tourism plays a very important role.  But development, when it comes to national parks, is the longest, meanest and dirtiest four-letter-word in the dictionary.  State Governments are losing the conservation plot, and Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke should take action to save national parks from this new threat”, said Mr Muir.

For more info. call Keith Muir 0412 791 404

Wilderness, Tourism and National Parks: 6th National Wilderness Conference
21-23 September, University of Technology, Sydney

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