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Tarkine - Opening of Four-wheel Drive Tracks

12 September 2017

Ms O'CONNOR question to PREMIER, Mr HODGMAN

[10.31 a.m.]
Respected Aboriginal heritage expert Rocky Sainty has described your move to reopen four-wheel drive tracks through globally significant cultural heritage sites in the takayna/Tarkine as a deplorable intention. He also accuses you of cynical political motives and questions your commitment to reconciliation when you treat Aboriginal people with such arrogance and disrespect. What do you have to say to Mr Sainty and those six other highly regarded former members of your Aboriginal Heritage Council who resigned in disgust at your Government's actions and your clear intent to allow damage to priceless Aboriginal heritage on the takayna/Tarkine coast?


ANSWER

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for her question. People with an interest in this area should not listen to the Leader of the Greens when it comes to the facts. That question demonstrates that she will say anything to whip up and cause more division within the Aboriginal community.

Our policy, which we took to the election and which we are now delivering, has been described by the Circular Head Aboriginal Corporation as one of inclusion, not exclusion. That is what is motivating this Government in how we are addressing this issue. I want to make it very clear to all those with an interest in this -

Members interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER - Order. I am having difficulty hearing the Premier this morning because of all the interjections.

Mr HODGMAN - I want to make it clear to those who have a genuine interest in this issue that, as members would be aware, last week we submitted an application to the federal government under the EPBC Act to undertake works to reopen tracks in accordance with our election commitment, but to do so in a responsible and sustainable way. Our plan to allow for the responsible recreational access between Sandy Cape and the Pieman River within the Arthur-Pieman Conservation Area has been referred for assessment. Importantly, under our proposal a number of conditions to be applied to ensure the appropriate protection of the area include adherence to strict rules around driver behaviour; allowing access only between the non-winter months; and a requirement to obtain special permits for certain tracks. Remediation works are proposed to be undertaken to protect some areas, as well as measures such as fencing to prevent access to others. Signage will also be erected to ensure users are educated on their responsibilities. It is also our intention to employ an additional two on-ground staff to monitor compliance, educate users and protect the areas.

It is not true for the Leader of the Greens to say we are indifferent to those matters. We are putting in place measures to better protect those special areas in a way that members of the local Aboriginal community, the Circular Head Aboriginal Corporation, have said is a policy of inclusion, not exclusion.

We were brave as a government to go where a former government was too weak to go, and that was to provide a more inclusive policy for Aboriginals in this state, for all Aboriginals to gain access to services, and to recognise all those in the community, particularly those who have been excluded for so long and you did nothing about. We have and not everyone agrees with it, but this is a policy of inclusion, not exclusion, and we will not swerve from it.