MEDIA RELEASE 16 October 2018 |
New Great Ocean Road Authority will weaken national park protection.
Conservationists are alarmed and furious at proposals to change the purpose of national parks along the Great Ocean Road.
“The proposal to hand over some of our most iconic national parks, to some sort of new tourism focused management authority, is an alarming backwards step in nature conservation,” says Victorian National Parks Association spokesperson, Phil Ingamells
According to recommendations in the Great Ocean Road Action Plan, released on Friday afternoon (12 October 2018) and adopted by the Andrews Government, the proposal could see significant changes in the management of national parks such as Port Campbell National Park and Twelve Apostles Marine National Park. Planning and decision-making responsibility in the parks would be given to a new ‘Great Ocean Road Coast and Parks Authority’ under new legislation.
“This is a national parks land grab. It seeks to fundamentally change time-honoured protections under the National Parks Act 1975, and effectively fragments Victoria’s national park estate” Mr Ingamells said.
Parks and reserves likely to be impacted include at least 15,000 hectares of national parks, coastal parks, marine national parks and sanctuaries along the Great Ocean Road, including:
- Port Campbell National Park (1,830 hectares)
- Point Addis Marine National Park (4,600 hectares)
- Twelve Apostles Marine National Park (7,500 hectares)
- Arches Marine Sanctuary (45 hectares)
- Bay of Islands Coastal Park (950 hectares)
- Unspecified parts of Great Otway National Park, but including the Otway Lighthouse and camping areas.
“The plan, sensibly, aims to improve coordination for the great range of crown land managers in the region and improve land use planning. But if there is no intention to change the high level of protection offered to national parks, then there is no need to transfer management control of parks to the new Act.
“The National Parks Act has served us well for generations, and protected tourism icons such as the Twelve Apostles and Great Otway National Park. Introducing new overriding legislation will inevitably strip protections and weaken the integrity of the parks estate.
“It’s a window-dressed land grab by tourism bodies, and sets a terrible precedent for environmental management across the state” said Mr Ingamells.
The plan proposes to change the management prescriptions for Parks Victoria’s parks, then sub-contract Parks Victoria back to manage them.
“It’s a bit like selling your home from under you, then leasing it back to you to make a set of renovations.”
The Victorian government’s policy announcement late last week mirrors a commitment by the Liberal Party some weeks ago for much the same idea.
The Victorian National Parks Association is calling on all parties to rule out any changes to the core purpose of national parks, including any changes to the control, legislation, tenure and/or management of national parks or other conservation reserves along the Great Ocean Road, or anywhere else in the state.
“We must protect our irreplaceable natural heritage for generations to come,” said Mr Ingamells.
Previous coverage: ‘Great Ocean Road threatened?‘, in Park Watch September 2018
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