La­bor’s $3m Pie­man plan

Abo­rig­i­nal rangers and greater pro­tec­tion in 4WD pack­age

Sunday Tasmanian - - News - DAVID BENIUK State Po­lit­i­cal Ed­i­tor

FU­TURE fed­eral and state La­bor gov­ern­ments would em­ploy Abo­rig­i­nal rangers as part of a $3 mil­lion plan for the North-West con­ser­va­tion area at the cen­tre of a bat­tle over four-wheel-drive ac­cess.

ALP state leader Re­becca White has been un­der pres­sure to out­line the party’s pol­icy on the Arthur-Pie­man Con­ser­va­tion Area’s tracks.

The tracks were closed un­der the pre­vi­ous LaborGreen govern­ment be­cause of con­cerns about dam­age to Abo­rig­i­nal her­itage.

The Hodg­man Lib­eral Govern­ment vowed to re­open them but was halted by the Fed­eral Court in an ac­tion ini­ti­ated by the Tas­ma­nian Abo­rig­i­nal Cen­tre.

A de­ci­sion has been passed on to Fed­eral En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Josh Fry­den­berg, an­ger­ing Abo­rig­ines and con­ser­va­tion­ists.

Ms White has said she will abide by Mr Fry­den­berg’s de­ci­sion. The Op­po­si­tion Leader yes­ter­day joined Fed­eral MP for Brad­don Jus­tine Keay to an­nounce a La­bor state govern­ment and Shorten fed­eral govern­ment would strengthen pro­tec­tions for the area.

Fed­eral La­bor would spend $2.29 mil­lion and a White govern­ment $600,000 over four years on a new cul­tural man­age­ment plan, tourism in­fra­struc­ture and em­ploy­ing up to four Abo­rig­i­nal rangers.

“La­bor has lis­tened to the lo­cal com­mu­nity which, as well as bet­ter man­age­ment of the area and in­creased pro­tec­tion for the area, wants to be in­volved in that man­age­ment and pro­tec­tion,” Ms White said.

An Arthur-Pie­man Con­ser­va­tion Area man­age­ment com­mit­tee would be re­in­stated to al­low com­mu­nity in­put, Ms Keay said.

“To­day’s an­nounce­ment is more than just tracks,” she said. “It is about giv­ing all stake­hold­ers, and in par­tic­u­lar the lo­cal com­mu­nity, a real say in how the area is man­aged and pro­tected.”

For­mer Abo­rig­i­nal Her­itage Coun­cil chair Rocky Sainty, who re­cently re­signed his mem­ber­ship partly over the Govern­ment’s stance on the tracks, said Ms White’s sup­port for the fed­eral process was dis­ap­point­ing.

“In the eyes of the com­mu­nity then, she’s no bet­ter than Hodg­man,” Mr Sainty said. “It’s a dis­re­gard for the Abo­rig­i­nal com­mu­nity and no re­spect for our cul­ture or our her­itage.”

Mr Sainty said the ArthurPie­man should be made a na­tional park or indige­nous pro­tected area.

En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Matthew Groom said the State Govern­ment’s sub­mis­sion to Fed­eral Min­is­ter Fry­den­berg in­cluded pro­tec­tions for Abo­rig­i­nal her­itage.

Brad­don Lib­eral MPs Adam Brooks and Joan Ry­lah called on Ms White to openly sup­port the re­open­ing of the tracks.

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