MacDonnell park in doubt
By Adriaan Anarco-Troika
ALICE SPRINGS — A planned world-class national park in the West MacDonnell Ranges is now in doubt.
Nan Smibert, coordinator of the Central Australian Conservation Council (CACC), said a 1989 plan endorsed by the CLP government identified a total of 170,000 hectares to be acquired for the establishment of a national park.
"Yet today less than half of that land is in the hands of the Conservation Commission and only a quarter is declared national park", Smibert said. The CACC has stressed in the past that with most land in Central Australia being pastoralist and Aboriginal land, little remains for use by the tourist industry. Inevitably, the industry turns to and heavily impacts on conservation reserves. As a result, the very thing tourists come to see is in danger of being destroyed.
"While the government shirks its duty in acquiring land for this park, it seems eager enough to commit huge amounts of taxpayers' money to provide infrastructure for a new private tourist development near Glen Helen. Tourists need housing, but they also need country to look at that has not been trampled and loved to death by thousands before them", Smibert said.
The CACC has called on the conservation minister, Mike Reed, to recognise that the environmental and economic future of Central Australia depends on the government reasserting its commitment to the establishment of a national park in the West MacDonnell Ranges.