A change to the law is needed to ensure transparency around private development in environmentally significant parts of Tasmania, says the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA).
“Greater transparency is needed around the development approval process,” said Greg Barns SC, spokesperson, ALA. “The current Expression of Interest program for development inside our national parks has been secretive and controversial, and we need to make change to ensure the public can have confidence in the process.”
“Our World Heritage Areas are incredibly valuable and it is critical that any development is progressed with complete transparency. We have international obligations to protect these sites and so it is especially important that the development process cannot be influenced by politics or personal connections.”
ALA member and barrister Fabiano Cangelosi has drafted a Bill which makes a small change to the Right to Information Act 2009 to prevent some exemptions for disclosure from applying to information relating to such developments.
“This amendment will ensure transparency in development proposals for certain environmentally significant areas,” said Mr Barns SC. “It is an important issue of governance and political accountability, and can be addressed with this recommended change to the existing Act.”
“Transparency around developments in World Heritage Areas is critically important, and the public interest is always in favour of disclosure. The amendment would allow anyone concerned about these developments to apply for disclosure, and this would allow and encourage public debate.
“We urge the Government to make this change to ensure an open and fair planning process.”