Speeches Environment Community facilities | February 05, 2020
Grampians Rock Climbing
Victorian Parliament - February 5, 2020 -
Ms KEALY (Lowan) (19:03): (1819) My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, and the action I seek is for the minister to overturn her decision to close more than 500 square kilometres of the Grampians National Park to rock climbing, due to her decision being based on misleading information submitted by Parks Victoria. I refer to an article which covers this issue quite extensively and which was written by John Ferguson. It was published in the Australian of 31 January 2020 and titled ‘Grampians rock-climb damage proves a bit of a stretch’. Within that article Mr Ferguson outlines that there have been a number of incidents where Parks Victoria employees have provided inaccurate and misleading information to the minister. It is understood that the minister took this information on board and it informed her in making the decision to close vast areas of the Grampians National Park to rock climbing.
These areas of park that were closed, which is over 500 square kilometres, were the most valued areas for rock climbing. This is something that is so important for our region. We attract people from all over the world to enjoy our fantastic rockclimbing surfaces. There are walls which are fantastic for beginners, for people who have a disability, for children and for anybody who wants to enjoy this fantastic sport.
The evidence of damage that was provided to the minister has been misleading on two accounts. Outlined in Mr Ferguson’s article was that the Parks Victoria chief conservation scientist, Dr Mark Norman, wrongly claimed damage at eight key sites, which are now covered by the special protection areas within the Grampians National Park. He actually claimed that 7.425 hectares of the park had been damaged directly by rock climbers; however, it was later found that only 0.07 hectares were caused by multiple different landholders. So not only is the decimal point out, but we have also got not just rock climbers, but other users of the national park who have contributed to the damage. Further, the CEO of Parks Victoria, Matthew Jackson, submitted eight pictures to the minister, where only one photo indicates definitive evidence of climbing activity, and that was from the overuse of chalk. Now, there is no doubt that we do need to make sure that climbers manage their use of chalk in the park, but to say that this is a reason to close over 500 square kilometres is really grossly misleading. I ask the minister, therefore, to review her decision and to overturn her decision to close this extensive area of the Grampians National Park to rock climbing.
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