Labor ‘weak’ on its policy around tracks
THE Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre has blasted the State Labor Party for being “weak” over its stance on the Government’s controversial push to reopen tracks in the ArthurPieman Conservation Area to recreational vehicles.
On Saturday, Tasmanian Labor leader Rebecca White and Braddon MP Justine Keay announced that if elected, State and Federal Labor governments would deliver a $3 million package to provide “greater protection and management “of the conservation area.
The funding would include better Aboriginal interpretation and the training of indigenous rangers.
“We welcome the promise of badly needed funds,” the TAC’s Michael Mansell said,
“But the Labor Party has avoided the real issue — whether we allow destruction of Aboriginal heritage by fourwheel-drive vehicles.
“Labor should not run from the tracks issue. They could win government by taking a positive stance. These tracks that the Hodgman Government wants to reopen have been shut since the 1980s.”
Other tracks were closed by Labor in 2012.
The Liberals promised in the lead-up to the 2013 election to renew access but were thwarted by legal action, taken by the TAC.
The Government has now made an Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation application seeking Canberra’s backing for its plan.
Mr Mansell said the State Government was promoting the belief the Arthur-Pieman reserve was closed to vehicle access and needed to be opened up.
“Of the approximate 75-80km of the coastline from Marrawah to Sea Devil Rivulet, situated south of Sandy Cape, four-wheel-drive access is available to about 70km of coastal/beach driving,” he said.
“The Hodgman Government wants to provide four wheelers with another 37km south through to the Pieman River. This is shortsighted as two and four-wheel vehicles can already drive the magnifi- cent Western Highway to Corinna on the Pieman River.
“There is no sensible reason to allow for a handful of fourwheel vehicles to crash through dunes and middens and coastal heath in previous tracks that were closed over 30 years ago.”
Deputy Labor Leader Michelle O’Byrne said she was pleased the TAC was supportive of its plan to look at ways to best manage the area.
Ms O’Byrne said the party would wait for the independent EPBC process to be finalised before making a firm policy stand on the issue.
The Government was contacted for comment.