Greens attack national parks Bill

IT will save the Coffs Coast’s iconic national parks from unwanted development or sink them for good, depending on who you believe.

The newly passed National Parks and Wildlife Amendment (Visitors and Tourists) Bill has been applauded by the State Government for supporting tourism but condemned by The Greens as a threat to the parks.

NSW Environment Minister Frank Sartor said the law ruled out major resorts, rifle ranges and large sporting complexes and limited the scale of new accommodation in parks.

“The legislation strengthens environmental standards by clarifying the type of visitor facilities and activities that are allowed in national parks,” Mr Sartor said.

“This legislation requires that any leasing and licensing proposals in national parks must be consistent with the natural and cultural values of the land.”

Tourism Minister Jodi McKay said NSW would now be in line with other major eco-tourism destinations like Tasmania and Africa.

“This legislation will allow us to promote our national parks with low-key, sustainable activities and attractions while protecting them for generations to come,” she said.

But Greens MP Ian Cohen said the new regime paved the way for commercial tourist facilities for the rich.

“The passing of this legislation with the support of the Opposition threatens the integrity of our national park estate by allowing areas within the boundaries of national parks to be developed,” Mr Cohen said.

“The Government is keen to adopt the Tourism and Transport Forum’s high-yield, low-volume approach to visitors to national parks which could see elite tourist resorts built in some of our most precious natural areas.

“The bill will now make it easier for the public to be excluded from some parts of national parks with private operators being granted exclusive access.”

Mr Cohen said the Government was sending a clear message to the public about future enjoyment of some national parks –‘if you can’t pay, stay away’.

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