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The politics of parks : a history of Tasmania's national parks 1885-2005

Quarmby, Debbie (2006) The politics of parks : a history of Tasmania's national parks 1885-2005. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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This thesis examines the history of Tasmania's national parks and protected areas from 1885-2005, analysing the interests, and the organisations and individuals representing them, which have influenced outcomes. Significant organisations representing different and sometimes competing interests have been community based groups, chiefly the naturalist and scientific bodies, bushwalking clubs and environmental organisations; tourism associations, industry interests, notably forestry, mining and hydro-electricity, federal, local and state governments and government agencies, notably the National Parks and Wildlife Service. The thesis argues that the establishment and development of Tasmania's national parks and protected areas have been shaped by the negotiations, accommodations, conflicts and shifting relative power among these competing interests.

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries consensus of interest among Tasmania's social and political elite facilitated the declaration of Tasmania's first scenery reserves and national parks. Conflicts of interest between preserving land in its natural state and industrial development grew apparent from the 1920s however, and Tasmanian governments managed park expansion through politics of compromise in which national parks accommodated industry demands. The environment movement that emerged in the 1960s protested national parks' 'residual' status and with federal government support defeated the State government's plan to build a dam within an area proposed for a Wild Rivers National Park. Following environmentalists' success in over-riding State government processes to expand the State's national park estate and World Heritage Area in the early 1980s; the State government strengthened its direct control over the National Parks and Wildlife Service and focused its attention on national parks' tourism role. Aspects of tourism in national parks are, however, incompatible with the preservation of environmental and wilderness values, which resulted in further political conflict between government-supported tourism interests and the national parks movement.

This thesis complements earlier research on Tasmanian national park history by Mosley, Castles, Shackel, Mendel and Cubit by extending analysis of that history to the twenty-first century, examining the role of the National Parks and Wildlife Service in that history since the agency's inception in 1971, and addressing both environmental and social perspectives of national park history. It concludes that by the twenty-first century Tasmanian national park policy required a framework of social values associated with national parks in which to situate environmental protection as national parks' primary purpose.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Social Sciences and Humanities
Supervisor(s): Layman, Lenore
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