Legal bills mount over bid for Tarkine tracks
THE State Government’s bid to reopen four-wheel-drive tracks in the Tarkine has cost more than $500,000, primarily on legal costs.
Answers to questions on notice from state budget estimates showed the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment spent $97,104 on reopening the tracks in the Arthur Pieman Conservation Area. That included $15,620 on consultants.
Federal Court costs incurred were $440,200, primarily funded through the Tasmanian Risk Management Fund with DPIPWE paying an excess amount of $20,000.
The Liberals are committed to reopening driving tracks in the Tarkine, despite the Federal Court halting the process following legal action initiated by the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre.
The tracks were closed under the previous LaborGreen government because of concerns about damage to Aboriginal heritage.
Greens Leader Cassy O’Connor said the State Government was spending an outrageous amount defending its controversial policies in court.
“The Liberals are spending like sloshed sailors on politicised legal challenges,” she said.
“The Treasurer can’t find the money to house the homeless, but he’s happy to shell out half a million dollars fighting a court case to allow for the destruction of Aboriginal heritage.”
“First it was $355,000 defending their draconian antiprotest laws, then $440,000 on the takayna/Tarkine tracks case, and the costs of the Lake Malbena appeal are yet to be realised.”
A Government spokesman said the Liberals had taken its policies to two elections and received the support of voters.
“We are not only delivering on the commitments we made to Tasmanians, but we are also delivering the largest investments in affordable housing that Tasmania has ever seen, as well as record funding for health, education, and infrastructure,” the spokesman said.