Off-road blow to unity

NW tracks drive un­der­mines rec­on­cil­i­a­tion, says TAC leader

Sunday Tasmanian - - News - DAVID BENIUK

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.

Heather Sculthorpe

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