On Thursday, the South Australian State Planning Commission’s Assessment Panel will decide whether to approve secret plans by the Australian Walking Company (AWC) to build luxury private accommodation villages in remote wilderness locations in Flinders Chase National Park on Kangaroo Island.
The recommendation from the Commission’s staff to the Panel is that the plans be APPROVED.
The proposal to build around twenty permanent private buildings at Sandy Beach and Sanderson Bay will also involve clearing several kilometres of new vehicle and walking tracks in a previously untouched wilderness in the heart of one of our most important National Parks.
“Exclusive private developments in National Parks are a betrayal of public trust”, said Greens MLC and environmental lawyer, Mark Parnell.
“Not only are these proposals completely at odds with preserving the unspoilt wilderness character of an iconic National Park, the project has also been surrounded by secrecy. The State Planning Commission and State Government are refusing to allow public access to the development application documents or any opportunity to make submissions.
“Our precious National Parks and other conservation reserves are first and foremost for the protection of the environment. Building exclusive private luxury accommodation for high end tourists prepared to pay $700 per night is completely inappropriate in the heart of an untouched and undeveloped wilderness.”
“The Greens are calling on the AWC to scale back their proposal and shift it back onto the existing walking track closer to existing roads and infrastructure. Otherwise, the State Planning Commission should refuse the development outright or defer it until a more appropriate location is found”, concluded Mark Parnell MLC.
Secrecy and subterfuge: A dozen reasons to be appalled by this process.
1. The hearing on Thursday will be held in SECRET.
2. ONLY the developer and government will be invited to give evidence.
3. The development application documents have been kept SECRET.
4. Freedom of Information requests have been thwarted for 4 months.
5. There has been NO formal consultation with the community.
6. NO submissions or public input has been sought.
7. The proposal is AGAINST the Management Plan for Flinders Chase National Park.
8. The Environment Department has lied about the process.
9. The financial contract between the Government and AWC is being kept SECRET.
10. Over $900,000 of taxpayers’ money has been granted to the developer.
11. EVERY “Friends of Parks” volunteer group on Kangaroo Island has gone on strike in protest.
12. There are 47 nationally-listed threatened species known to exist in the area. Ironically, tomorrow is International Day for Biological Diversity.