La­bor ‘weak’ on its pol­icy around tracks

Mercury (Hobart) - - NEWSFRONT - HE­LEN KEMPTON

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.

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