Flinders Chase National Park

30 May 2007 questionsarchive

I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Environment and Heritage a question on the subject of the Flinders Chase National Park.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Members may recall the tragic drowning of two men that took place at Remarkable Rocks in Flinders Chase National Park, Kangaroo Island, on 9 November 2003. These deaths were followed by a coronial inquest, which was reported on 10 August 2006. In giving evidence in, I think, July 2006 (from my reading of the Coroner’s report) the conservator of Kangaroo Island and the most senior officer of the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Mr Mark Herrmann, told the Coroner that the dangerous zones at the site, where people can slip and fall into the sea, had not been declared in accordance with section 42(1) of the National Parks and Wildlife Act, which provides:

Where the Minister is satisfied that it is expedient for the purpose of protecting human life or conserving native plants or animals, the Minister may, by notice published in the Gazette, declare any portion of the reserve to be a prohibited area.

Section 42(3) provides a disincentive for anyone to enter such a prohibited area by creating an offence which attracts a fine of $1 000. The Coroner stated in the report:

It is unfortunate the department has not put the declaration in place. It seems that the signs were in place some time ago. I consider that the declaration should have been placed in the gazette, as required by section 42(1), much sooner than this. However, I note the department has made considerable efforts to upgrade the signage and safety of the area and it is a pity that it should let itself down by failing to deal with an important procedural matter such as the declaration itself.

My question is: will the minister confirm whether that declaration has been gazetted; and if not, why not, and when is that likely to take place?

The Hon. G.E. GAGO(Minister for Environment and Conservation): I thank the honourable member for her question. This was indeed a very tragic accident that resulted in death, and the Coroner’s inquest that followed made certain comments and recommendations in relation to that.

It was some time ago that I looked at this, but I recollect that I was advised that all appropriate upgrades in signage and zoning of areas that could be considered to be potentially dangerous had been addressed.

Obviously, it is most important that these reserves are maintained in such a way that visitors can not only enjoy the natural beauty of our coast and inland areas but also do so in a manner that is safe for themselves and their families. I am advised that all upgrades have been completed and new signage put in place, and I am also advised that all other matters raised by the Coroner have been addressed.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I have a supplementary question. Do I understand from the minister’s answer that a gazettal of the prohibition will not be undertaken?

The Hon. G.E. GAGO: As I stated, the advice I have been given is that all the recommendations made by the Coroner have been addressed.