Information Vital
to assess impact

Manly Daily article 28th April 2000


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Conservationists are threatening to lodge formal complaints against the National Parks and Wildlife Service after it refused a Freedom of Information request for contract details of an agreement to lease the Quarantine Station to a private operator.

Friends of Quarantine Station and National Parks Association member, Judith Bennett, and Mary Johnsen have argued that the information was necessary for the public properly to consider an environmental impact statement to be released shortly by preferred tenderer Mawland Hotel Management.

Mawland is planning to spend $13million on a scheme to provide a 90-room accommodation facility, a restaurant, guided tours and education and conference facilities for the historic site.

But NPWS central director, Bob Conroy, used an exemption under the FOI Act relating to internal working documents to refuse the request.

Mr Conroy said it was "contrary to the public interest to release the information at this particular point in time."

"The conditional agreement to lease forms an initial part of the process which may ultimately lead to the execution of a lease for the Quarantine Station after an exhaustive EIS and public consultation phase."

"Disclosure of the agreement to lease at this time could prejudice the commercial interests of Mawland."

NSW director-general Brian Gilligan upheld the determination in a subsequent internal review.

Mrs Bennett said they were now considering making a complaint to the Ombudsman or the Administrative Decisions Tribunal.

"We are interested in the degree of control that NPWS would have over the activities on that site over 45 years," she said.

She said the information was needed so people could compare what would happen under the Mawland lease with what would happen if the site was managed some other way, such as via a trust.

"And there is a conflict of interest concern we have that the NPWS are signatories to that lease and they are also the ones deciding on the appropriateness of the EIS," Mrs Bennett said.

This page was created 7th October, 1999, by Judith Bennett, 
Friends of Quarantine Station,
and was last modified 26th February, 2012.