Minister for Parks
South Coast Track Luxury Lodge Development – Aboriginal Heritage Report
25 May 2022
Ms O’CONNOR question
to MINISTER for PARKS, Mrs PETRUSMA
On 10 March in this House I asked if you had an Aboriginal
heritage report over the proposed south coast track luxury lodge development
and whether it had been commissioned by the Government. You stated:
When we get the final RAA and undertake the
assessments, the expectation is that Aboriginal cultural values assessments
will be undertaken on each site, because that is the requirement for any
development that would happen in the TWWHA.
In my hand is a right to information document that is 738 pages
long with 658 pages, unsurprisingly, fully redacted. One thing not redacted, however, is a
statement confirming that among the redactions is an Aboriginal heritage report
that has been undertaken for this project.
When you refused to confirm the existence of that report in this place,
minister, were you misleading the House, or are you being kept in the dark
about what is happening in your portfolio by your Parks secretary?
Mr Speaker, I thank the member for her question. In regard to what Ms O’Connor raised just now, the previous
proponent, Mr Johnson, as part of his planning works to develop the
required Reserve Activity Assessment process for the South Coast Track
proposal, following a desktop assessment by Aboriginal Heritage Tasmania, the
proponent engaged the services of a consulting archaeologist and aboriginal
heritage officer to prepare an aboriginal heritage assessment report.
This report was provided to Aboriginal Heritage Tasmania for
review following which Aboriginal Heritage Tasmania provided feedback to both
the consultant and to the Parks and Wildlife Service, in relation to a number
of issues identified in that report. But
as I have said before in this House Mr Speaker, to date no final Reserve
Activity Assessment addressing these issues has been provided to the Parks and
Wildlife Service for assessment in relation to this proposal.
I note that any assessment by the Parks and Wildlife Service on
the final Reserve Activity Assessment from this process will need to consider
any impacts on aboriginal heritage along the South Coast Track. It is also important to note that the RAA
process does not negate the requirements for the issuing of a permit under the
Aboriginal Heritage Act 1975, if aboriginal heritage was to be impacted. To date, Mr Speaker, as far as I am advised,
there has been no application for a permit, and no permit has been provided by
the minister in relation to this proposal.
I am advised that the new owner of the proposed Wild Bush
Luxury Experience Pty Ltd is currently working on engagement with the Tasmanian
aboriginal people and the Aboriginal Heritage Council in relation to this
proposal. In fact, Charles Carlow from
Wild Bush Luxury had a letter enclosed in the RTI that Ms O’Connor is referring
to and it states:
To whom it may concern, it is important to
note that the Reserve Activity Assessment document released to you through the
Right to Information request is dated.
The information in this document was submitted to the Tasmanian Parks
and Wildlife Service by the previous proponent, not the current proponent, in
2019. It was a draft in order to receive
feedback on further requirements to meet the approvals process. No further work has been carried out since
that time by the previous proponent.
In December 2021 Wild Bush Luxury, a division
of Experience Co, took on the previous proponent’s business and, through that
purchased the South Coast Track proposal.
We are currently working on the proposal, with our first priority being
engaging with the aboriginal communities in Tasmania.
If you would like further information on the
proposal, please feel free to get in touch directly on the South Coast Track at
The new proponent has made it quite clear. He has been in the Mercury, and he has stated:
‘One of our core values in respect for the environment we work in is the
cultures that exists within that environment, and certainly from our
perspective, we are at our core very much about working with local communities,
working with indigenous populations and providing opportunities for them in
partnership economically and socially.’
As the secretary of the department stated on ABC radio earlier
this year: ‘Our expectation is that good
consultation takes the form of co-design where the proponent sits down in the
early stages of the proposal, and engages with Tasmania aboriginal people and
the broader community –
Ms O’Connor – So, they have already approved it,
Mr SPEAKER – Order, Ms O’Connor.
Mrs PETRUSMA – to discuss their aspirations, visions, possible job opportunities, or what other opportunities for involvement might look like. This is what the proponent have stated they are doing. So, Mr Speaker, our expectation is that full consultation will be taken with the aboriginal community, and that where required Aboriginal heritage assessment processes will be undertaken, as will any local, state and federal government processes.