Labor’s $3m Pieman plan
Aboriginal rangers and greater protection in 4WD package
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.