Le­gal bills mount over bid for Tarkine tracks

Mercury (Hobart) - - NEWS - BLAIR RICHARDS

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.

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