Off-road blow to unity
NW tracks drive undermines reconciliation, says TAC leader
THE Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre and conservationists have slammed a request for the Federal Government to approve the reopening of fourwheel-drive tracks in the state’s North-West.
The State Government has asked Federal Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg to assess plans to reopen three controversial tracks in the Arthur-Pieman Conservation Area.
The Hodgman Government last year appealed a Federal Court ruling upholding the closure of the tracks by the previous Labor government.
The court granted the Gov- ernment the option of seeking federal approval under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.
“We went to the election promising to reverse the Labor-Green lockups to allow recreational off-road vehicles to enjoy the Arthur-Pieman area, and we intend to deliver,” Liberal MHA for Braddon Adam Brooks said.
“The reopening of these routes along the spectacular West Coast will deliver one of the truly great off-road experi- ences on offer in Australia and is supported by many in the community.”
TAC head Heather Sculthorpe said her organisation would be making a submission to Mr Frydenberg asking him to keep the tracks closed.
“If he does anything wrong at all, any process or conclusion, then we’ll be back in court straight away,” Ms Sculthorpe said. “We will try in the meantime to educate the politicians and the public about why it’s so important.”
Ms Sculthorpe said last month’s breakthrough launch of a Tasmanian Reconciliation Council had been undermined.
“Premier Hodgman has shown disrespect and contempt rather than his rhetoric of reconciliation,” she said.
Ms Sculthorpe joined former Greens leader Bob Brown to launch the results of a ReachTEL poll that found 46 per cent of Tasmanians oppose the reopening of the tracks to 36 per cent in favour.
“Minister Frydenberg should reject the Hodgman application outright as non-compliant with the Federal Court’s direction or the wishes of the Aboriginal community,” Dr Brown said.
Greens leader Cassy O’Connor said the state had a duty to protect Aboriginal heritage.
“Sites in the Tarkine have been desecrated or destroyed by idiots who made their way into these sacred places in offroad vehicles,” Ms O’Connor said.