Our national parks must be more than playgrounds or paddocks

Written in 2013, the situation has worsened since then.

It’s make or break time for Australia’s national parks.

National parks on land and in the ocean are dying a death of a thousand cuts, in the form of bullets, hooks, hotels, logging concessions and grazing licences (and cableways. It’s been an extraordinary last few months, with various governments in eastern states proposing new uses for these critically important areas.

 

Australia’s first “National Park”, established in 1879, was akin to a glorified country club. Now called the “Royal National Park” on the outskirts of Sydney, it was created as a recreational escape for Sydney-siders, with ornamental plantations, a zoo, race courses, artillery ranges, livestock paddocks, deer farms, logging leases and mines.

Australians since realised that national parks should focus on protecting the species and natural landscapes they contain. However, we are now in danger of regressing to the misguided ideals of the 19th Century.
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https://theconversation.com/our-national-parks-must-be-more-than-playgrounds-or-paddocks-14389

Gondwana Rainforests of Australia Under Threat

In 2000, Ray Stevens‘ earlier attempt at building a cableway to Springbrook came to the attention of UNESCO – the body that oversees World Heritage listings.

There is little difference between Stevens’ earlier proposal and this one, as shadowy as it is right now.

The Gondwana Rainforests is a serial property composed of 41 component parts, ranging in size from 36 hectares to 39,120 hectares. Each of the component parts conserve different values and are faced with different threats and management responses. More information is required for each component part before an assessment of the conservation status of the site as a whole can be more comprehensively assessed. However, in general the values for which the site was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1986, with a large extension in 1994, have been mostly maintained apart from a decline in some significant species. Despite state-of-the-art management, given the large number of threats from both within and outside the site and potential additional threats brought about by climate change, the conservation outlook at this point in time is good with some concerns.

Overall Threats

Although the list of current and potential threatening processes to the property is long, there have been major management responses to these threats. However even with excellent management response, given the sheer number and diversity of threats, the multi-use functions of the property and the somewhat fragmented disposition of its component parts, as well as the unquantified effect of climate change, the threats are still assessed as high.

Gondwana Rainforests of Australia

IUCN State of Conservation (SOC) Gondwana Rainforests of Australia

The stink intensifies: Mermaid Beach MP Ray Stevens voted to cut red tape for commercial ventures in the Gold Coast Hinterland

Mermaid Beach MP Ray Stevens voted to cut red tape for commercial ventures in the Gold Coast Hinterland

The site of a proposed cableway project proposed for Springbrook.

The site of a proposed cableway project proposed for Springbrook.

MERMAID Beach MP Ray Stevens voted in favour of new laws which would cut red tape and costs to commercial enterprises in national parks after planning began for his proposed hinterland cableway.

A Bulletin search of Hansard shows Mr Stevens was in State Parliament on October 16 last year when a division was called for a vote about amendments to the Nature Conservation Act.

The Mermaid Beach MP is listed as one of 66 Government members who voted in favour of added clauses ensuring the changes were passed as LNP MPs praised the new laws.

A business search reveals Gold Coast Skyride was registered in October 3, 2013, by Nerang-based accountant Owen Patrick Yong Gee.

MP Ray Stevens is remaining tight-lipped about the project.

MP Ray Stevens is remaining tight-lipped about the project.

Searches show Mr Yong Gee and Mr Stevens, through their companies, are shareholders in the hinterland project.

The consortium, which includes Coast businessman Terry Jackman and Terry Moore, plans a 9km cableway from a privately owned site on Springbrook Road to the mountain top station at Springbrook in the national park.

Mr Stevens was appointed as one of several directors in September this year, but in early November ceased to play that role.

He declined to comment on his vote when contacted by the Bulletin.

State Parliament as early as April 2013 began debating the Nature Conservation Bill with Minister Steve Dickson explaining the changes would allow for eco-tourism facilities in national parks.

“Importantly, the object of the Nature Conservation Act is being expanded to better provide for increased recreation and eco-tourism opportunities in the protected area estate, all the while retaining a focus on the conservation of nature,” Mr Dickson told the Parliament.

Mr Stevens in October this year stunned colleagues when he announced, in the Parliament, that he was involved in the eco-tourism project and his role had been cleared by the Integrity Commissioner.

But he has declined to release details of letters between himself and the commissioner despite requests from the Bulletin during the past 57 days.

The Hansard search shows Mr Stevens has not spoken about legislation which would impact on his development.

But other Coast MPs, unaware of Skyride, including Mudgeeraba MP Ros Bates, have addressed the House on the Bill and talked about how it would help neglected areas like Springbrook.

Gaven Independent MP Dr Alex Douglas believes Mr Stevens must either resign from Parliament or sell his shares if he was to remain an MP.

“He supported legislation and did not declare a conflict of interest. He clearly has a conflict of interest,” Dr Douglas told the Bulletin.

“He could totally withdraw and divest himself of his shares, which is fine. If he won’t resign and go with his project, I don’t see how they (the LNP) could endorse him.

“If it was the National Party, he’d be disendorsed. In the Liberal Party, you are allowed to do this.”

 

http://www.goldcoastbulletin.com.au/news/gold-coast/mermaid-beach-mp-ray-stevens-voted-to-cut-red-tape-for-commercial-ventures-in-the-gold-coast-hinterland/story-fnj94idh-1227167281822

Mermaid MP Ray Stevens asked to detail backroom politics

Mermaid MP Ray Stevens asked to detail backroom politics

CABLEWAY MP RAY Stevens is under pressure to reveal his role in supporting new LNP laws which help open up national parks for businesses.

Opponents to the planned $100 million Skyride have called on residents to ask Mr Stevens to explain his position when the party room debated changes to the Nature Conservation Act and vegetation management laws.

Amendments to both pieces of legislation will reduce red tape and potentially save millions of dollars for developers planning projects either in or near national parks.

The Mermaid Beach MP in October in State Parliament announced he was part of a consortium which was proposing a 9km cable car ride from a privately owned site on Springbrook Rd to a mountain top station at Springbrook.

Gold Coast and Hinterland Environment Council president Lois Levy yesterday confirmed a No Way Cableway campaign was underway which could include a petition and possible future rallies.

Mrs Levy said GECKO through social media would encourage residents to ask Mr Stevens to release letters where he sought and obtained clearance from the Integrity Commissioner regarding his involvement in the project.

“I think they should be asking him to be open and transparent about the advice from the Integrity Commissioner,” Mrs Levy said.

“Was he present when changes to the legislation allowed this type of project to go ahead. Was he involved in discussions in the party room?

“Did he vote in favour of those changes in the Parliament? These changes make it easier to do an environmental impact assessment.”

After Mr Stevens had remained silent on the project since October,The Bulletin yesterday published 10 key questions which asked the MP to detail his role, financial stake and contact with fellow MPs about the Skyride.

Mrs Levy said the Parliament would be debating new legislation in the New Year which could favour the project and the Government was required to update the southeast Queensland regional plan.

“He should resign from the Parliament if he continues to be involved in this. Everyone seems to be able to see a conflict of interest other than himself and the Premier,” she said.

Former Labor Mudgeeraba MP Di Reilly is backing a petition to State Parliament because she believes residents will get little support from Coast-based LNP members.

She said residents had been given no information about the project other that it appeared similar to the previous Naturelink proposal.

http://www.goldcoastbulletin.com.au/news/gold-coast/mermaid-mp-ray-stevens-asked-to-detail-backroom-politics/story-fnj94idh-1227165574125

Ray refuses to talk – the pressure builds.

 

Mermaid Beach MP Ray Stevens has refused to talk about a proposed Hinterland cableway

 

Mermaid Beach MP Ray Stevens.

Mermaid Beach MP Ray Stevens.

TRY calling the “cable guy” who remains silent.

Ray Stevens has been asked more than a dozen times in the past two months — by the Bulletin, the State Opposition and other MPs — to release information about his $100 million Skyride plan.

Among the critical questions the Mermaid Beach MP needs to answer is whether he intends to release details of the letters exchanged between himself and the Integrity Commissioner about his role in the project.

Proposed cableway site in the Gold Coast Hinterland.

Proposed cableway site in the Gold Coast Hinterland.

The Bulletin today tracks the requests to provide comment which have been rejected or ignored.

A Right To Information application has revealed the only way this material will become public is if Mr Stevens or the Premier Campbell Newman decides to release it.

The Bulletin was advised that if the Integrity Commissioner documents existed in the office of the Premier that material “would most likely not be subject to the RTI Act and therefore would not be considered for release”. Under laws which govern the office of the Integrity Commissioner, the only way correspondence will be released is if the politician involved decides to do so.

Opposition leader Annastacia Palaszczuk has made seven specific requests, and in State Parliament asked the Premier, Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney and National Parks Minister Steve Dickson what they knew about the project.

Proposed Cableway site for the Gold Coast Hinterland.

Proposed Cableway site for the Gold Coast Hinterland.

Ms Palaszczuk had asked Mr Newman to release the advice from the Integrity Commissioner which Mr Stevens had provided to him.

Mr Newman in Parliament told the Opposition leader “it was a matter for the assistant minister”.

“I reiterate today that the assistant minister will have nothing to do with the approvals for that matter. I also confirm that I have sighted the advice, and the Integrity Commissioner provides a clearance,” he said. Gaven independent MP Alex Douglas, in a statement on his website, also asked Mr Stevens to release details after providing no information in his most recent householder letter.

The Mermaid Beach MP outlined laws to control party houses, police targeting of bikie gangs and improved health services but did not mention his project.

Opposition members vow they will be “relentless” in holding Mr Stevens and Mr Newman to account.

10 questions

we’d like to ask Ray Stevens
Let us know what you’d like to know in the comments section below:

  1. Why won’t you release the Integrity Commissioner’s advice on your role in the Gold Coast cable-car project?
  2. Roughly how many hours per week will you devote to your role as investor and adviser to the project?
  3. What is your investment in the project and are you being paid for your work?
  4. The people of Queensland are paying you almost $300,000 a year. How are they receiving value for money now that you have taken a part-time job?
  5. The roles of MP and assistant minister demand long hours and focus. Shouldn’t you devote all your working time to your elected duties?
  6. Do you contact and meet with fellow proponents Terry Moore and Terry Jackman?
  7. Have you had any contact with fellow Gold Coast MPs seeking further information about the cable-car project?
  8. If residents of your electorate have concerns about the project, who should they talk to given you are compromised in this matter?
  9. Do you intend to run for re-election at the 2015 State Election or retire from Parliament to focus on your cable-car project?
  10. You recently sent out a letter to your electorate noting recent developments. Why didn’t you acknowledge your new part-time job?

http://www.goldcoastbulletin.com.au/news/gold-coast/mermaid-beach-mp-ray-stevens-has-refused-to-talk-about-a-proposed-hinterland-cableway


 

Like the Gold Coast Bulletin, we welcome your questions in the comments.  We have started by poaching them from the article.

Government failure to act on Ray Stevens’ clear conflict of interest could have significant self-inflicted consequences

MERMAID Ray, aka the Cable Guy, is taking us all for a ride.

The Gold Coast MP, whose real name is Ray Stevens, may think he has a right to moonlight as a consultant and investor on a $100 million cable-car project.

He may also believe he’s assuaged public opinion by promising to place himself at arm’s length from any of the project’s interactions with the Newman Government.

However, potential conflict of interest cases like Stevens’ are always about perception. In all ways you look at the scenario of a senior government member being involved in a project reliant on government decisions, the perception is abysmal.

The Government’s failure to fathom this at the earliest opportunity could have significant self-inflicted consequences.

read more…

Here we Joh again! The GC Skyride and The Integrity of Mermaid Ray

This article really gets to the core of one of the troubling aspects of this project.

There is a stench rising in the north — and it leads unerringly back to the Newman Government, whose administration is looking more like the corrupt Joh Bjelke-Petersen regime every day.

One such malodourous case, which provides a case study in how the Newman Government has opened up Queensland for potential political corruption, is that of LNP MP ‘Mermaid’ Ray Stevens and his proposed Gold Coast ‘Skyride’ cablecar development.
read more…

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