Majority Oppose Wilderness Tourism, Including Accommodation and Helicopter Access, Poll Finds | Examiner

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Poll has shown majority public opposition to using Australia’s wilderness areas for accommodation and helicopter access, with environmental groups continuing to attack Tasmanian government for its expression of interest process . Roy Morgan’s online survey – commissioned by the Tasmanian National Parks Association and the Ross Knowles Foundation – reached out to people by email earlier this month and received 1,207 responses. One question asked whether “luxury lodges and helicopter tourism should be kept outside of Australia’s wilderness areas”, following a statement that these proposals were active. Sixty-three percent strongly agree or somewhat agree, while 21% disagree. Coalition voters were divided on the subject, while the majority of Labor and Green voters agreed. When asked if Australia’s remaining wilderness areas should be protected, 90% agreed, including a strong majority of coalition voters. Report co-author Martin Hawes, who has written numerous reports criticizing the state government’s approach to wilderness tourism development, said the government disagreed with the public. “This highlights the disconnect between government actions and the public. The next obvious conclusion is that if the government is listening to anyone about it, it is listening to private companies,” he said. “One of the main flaws, from the start, is that this is not a public process and it took place behind closed doors.” Environmental groups have repeatedly criticized the Tasmanian government’s EOI process since its inception in 2014, saying it lacks transparency. On the General Coordinator’s website, 29 proposals were listed at different stages, including those already operational such as Narawntapu Adventures and Freycinet Eco Retreat, and those with leases already signed like the proposal for a permanent camp at Halls Island at Lake Malbena. . The Halls Island proposal was the subject of the most public debate and was at the root of the helicopter access issue in the poll, although it was not explicitly mentioned. IN OTHER NEWS: An Auditor General’s report on the EOI process, released in September of last year, concluded that it was “fundamentally sound” and adhered to ecotourism guidelines over other states. There were 37 proposals in Round 1 and 25 in Round 2, although only 11 made progress towards a trade transaction and a further 18 were recommended for progress, but were still in the negotiation stage. Nineteen had not been recommended or withdrawn by the promoters. The Auditor General’s report found that the public had adequate information about the proposals. “The allegations of excessive secrecy of the EOI process are not supported by our evidence and we found that the release of information on the recommended proposals was sufficiently timely and handled appropriately,” the report read. Among its recommendations was “to increase the rigor of public consultation” as part of the process of evaluating the activity of reserves to “improve the level of transparency and objectivity”. The government has been contacted for comment.


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