Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Environment group demands Park Development tender be Withdrawn

“An environment group has called on the NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change (DECC) to withdraw its inappropriate Business Development tender document that was advertised in the Herald today. The tender aims to ‘identify new and emerging markets to increase … revenue in NSW National Parks’. It totally overrides the public consultation process for the Park Tourism Taskforce,” said Keith Muir director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness.

“The DECC Tourism Taskforce consultation process appears to be just a diversionary tactic. While the tourism industry gets park development tenders, the community gets the consultation on something that will never happen,” Mr Muir said.

“The park development tenders are no doubt designed to make the most of the National Landscapes tourism promotion campaign and are all about making national parks pay their way. This is a re-run of the park development push around the Sydney Olympics in 2000”, he said.

“The tourism industry is also plotting to weaken National Park protection laws through their supporters in Government (see TTF media release 18 June 2008). Today’s tender documents for business development demonstrate that this program is very advanced. The Environment Minister, Verity Firth, must step in and stop this run away process now” he said.

“The Colong Foundation is aware that the tourism industry lobby wants development of national parks fast tracked. Lodges and commercial huts are the favoured development types by the tourism industry. Such developments would be the death of what makes our national parks so special”, said Mr Muir.

“If the tenders continue then the National Landscapes promotion slogan could then be ‘Come to NSW quick, see our wilderness – before its gone’”, he said.

“Kosciuszko National Park already has been degraded by development, and now the parks in the Blue Mountains, those protecting the tropical rainforests on the north coast and on wilderness coast of south-east NSW could be next,” Mr Muir warned.

“The Colong Foundation promises the NSW Government a big fight. National Parks must not become a development opportunity for the tourism industry,” Mr Muir said.

“The commercialisation of park management is a slippery slope that undermines the nature conservation purpose of national parks”, said Mr Muir.

For more information contact: Keith Muir , (02) 9261 2400 (wk) or 0412 791 404 (ah)