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takayna/Tarkine - Opening of Four-wheel Drive Tracks

17 October 2017

Ms O'CONNOR question to MINISTER for ENVIRONMENT and PARKS, Ms ARCHER

[2.58 p.m.]

Your Government's plan to re-open tracks through ancient, irreplaceable Aboriginal heritage in the takayna/Tarkine has been dealt a major blow with the federal environment department rejecting the state's proposed measures to mitigate the damage and initiating their own lengthy, further assessment of likely impacts.  The Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre is celebrating the decision saying it is a message to your Government that you cannot ignore the law and you cannot ignore Aboriginal people.

Can you confirm that, short of rejecting the state's application to allow off-road vehicles back onto those tracks, this is the worst possible result for the plan to re-open the tracks and they are almost certainly unlikely to be re-opened before the state election?

 

ANSWER

Mr Speaker, I take this opportunity to congratulate you on your election today to the role of Speaker. 

I thank the member for Denison, Ms O'Connor, for her question.  I am glad about this question because celebrations are a little too early.  This is part of normal process.  When a referral is made to the federal government, it is more common than not that it comes back for further information.  It has been termed as a controlled action and now there will be a public environment report done.  It is par for the course; it is usual. 

The Government's policy - and I have said it publicly - is to reopen recreational tracks 501, 503 and 601, the three tracks in the Arthur-Pieman Conservation Area.  That is clear.  We took it to the last state election.  We are delivering on our commitments and we remain 100 per cent committed to it. 

I note the decision by the federal government that our plan to allow for off-road vehicle access in the Arthur-Pieman Conservation Area is a controlled action and will now be assessed by a public environment report.  I need to repeat that it is a normal part of the process.  If members of this House do not understand legal process, I suggest they look it up. 

We will work closely with the Australian Government.  We will provide all the detail they need to assess and approve our proposal.  I cannot give a time frame - that is entirely up to the process - but we will provide that information.  We will work closely with the Australian Government.  We will provide assistance as quickly as possible so that the assessment and approval can be provided as soon as possible.