Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Minister Sartor’s development bill sells out national parks

Minister Sartor’s National Park development Bill to be introduced into Parliament today seeks to shift the focus of National Parks away from conservation toward development. 

“The rebranded National Parks and Wildlife (Visitors and Tourist) Bill 2010 will, if passed, facilitate the issue of exclusive, private development rights in our National Parks,” said Keith Muir director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness.

“Essentially, this Bill sets about regulating the privatisation of some of the best bits in our national parks”, he said.

“This Bill will not be a good law and must be thrown out.  It is not an improvement in conservation management of national parks to facilitate the development of areas that are supposed to be set aside for nature.  Anyone who thinks so has rocks in their head,” Mr Muir said.

“There are only 27 leases in 13 national parks, other than those 163 leases for the ski resorts in Kosciuszko National Park.  This Bill is about opening up national parks to many more leases, thousands more.  That is the reality of this Bill, privatisation of thousands of areas in our national parks.  No matter how the Minister spins his national parks development bill today, that is the reality of it”, Mr Muir said.

“The Bill allows for the commercial use of wilderness, and because there will be a cross fertilisation between the various development opportunities provided by the Bill, it will act to destroy the wilderness idea in NSW.  If the Bill passes it won’t be long before the commercial outfitters are hot footing around in NSW wilderness areas by 4WD vehicle and helicopter”, Mr Muir said. 

“The Bill allows for sporting facilities, fast food outlets, resorts, conferences, you name it, it’s there.  And in case there’s a hot development opportunity not mentioned in the Bill, there is the special use of the word including, in the Bill’s commercial facilities “shopping list”, so that development is not limited to what’s on the list”, he said.

“Parks will no longer be managed for the conservation of nature and quiet recreation.  Under this Bill’s new paradigm, park managers who want to advance will be obliged to become a part of the new executive class that exercises power and control over the alienation of the public’s national parks.  Such a management ethic will wreck national parks in the long run”, said Mr Muir.

For more information contact: Keith Muir, (02) 9261 2400 (wk) or 9550 3615 (ah)