NSW National Parks and Tourism Planning:
Public assets up for grabs.
John Edwards 4
December 2008
Funding for the much-needed management of the State's national parks has
always been woefully inadequate, and has allowed critics to take more and
more 'free kicks' at the expence of the Parks Service as time goes on,
particularly in relation to fire, weeds and feral animal control.
In Mid 2007, the Tourism and Transport Forum (TTF), a proclaimed
tourism lobby group, released an Action Plan for putting more tourism into
Australian national parks, pushing for private investment in parks, increased
tourism focus for park management, and ‘pre-approval’ by government of
development opportunities which are then offered to industry.
It is the mention of 'private investment' and 'industry' that raised my initial
concerns, and a year later I represented the North Coast Environment
Council at a meeting in Sydney with Verity Firth, the then Minister for the
Environment. At that meeting
she announced a campaign to increase Park
visitation by 20%, which included tourism initiatives, but ruled out Hilton
Hotel type development in National Parks. It seems State Government was
listening to TTF, and liked what it heard – the sound of money.
Last week we received an intersting article compiled by Ian Brown which I
feel should be of interest to all those concerned about the future of national
parks. This report explains the history of TTF and its infiltration by
corporate interests, including the Property Council, Lend Lease, Leighton,
Macquarie Bank and Multiplex. According to records of the NSW Electoral
Funding Authority and Australian Electoral Commission (available at
www.democracy4sale.org), these corporations have donated a total of close
to $1 million to the NSW Labor party, at least $776,000 of it prior to the
2007 election.
Read on for the cronological evolution of a corporate raider – TTF.