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Hodgman Liberals in Embarrassing World Heritage Backdown

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Sunday, 20 March 2016

Tags: Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, Native Forest Logging, Parks EOIs

Cassy O'Connor MP | Greens Leader and Parks spokesperson

Parks Minister, Matthew Groom, has more egg on his face after being forced in to an embarrassing backdown on the Liberals' plan to log in Tasmania's World Heritage wilderness.

The acid is now on Mr Groom to accede to the World Heritage Committee's demand to reinstate the wilderness zone and always prioritise the protection of wilderness and the outstanding universal values of the TWWHA.

Handed down in Paris overnight, the UN's report is, of course, couched in diplomatic language but its message is unambiguous.  The Parks Minister must go back to the drawing board on his disgraced draft TWWHA plan.

The announcement today that the Liberals would abandon their destructive plan to log in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area is the culmination of a series of foolish moves by the Hodgman Liberals.

First, they joined the Abbott Government's failed attempt in 2014 to shrink the TWWHA at the United Nations.

Then Minister Groom embarked on his mission to open up the TWWHA to increased and inappropriate tourism development through a secretive Expressions of Interest process.

Shortly after, Mr Groom released a draft TWWHA management plan to facilitate the EOI process, allow logging and mining in the protected area and remove the 'wilderness' protection zoning from World Heritage Area management plan.

Now Mr Groom's chickens have come home to roost.  He must have known the United Nations World Heritage Committee would never countenance logging and mining in the TWWHA and now he has all but admitted his draft TWWHA plan is a farce.

The test of the Minister and his Cabinet colleagues will be in their response to the UN Committee's concern about increased tourism development in the wilderness and the lack of strict criteria underpinning the dodgy EOI process.

He should call a halt to the EOI process until strict criteria, guided by protecting the TWWHA's outstanding universal values, are developed and consulted publicly.

Minister Groom must commit to reinstating the inclusion of 'wilderness' zoning in world heritage management, along with undertaking a comprehensive assessment of the TWWHA's globally significant cultural heritage values in cooperation with Aboriginal Tasmanians.

Ultimately, Mr Groom's draft TWWHA Management Plan must be entirely rewritten.  It has been exposed as a sham.