Cassy O'Connor MP | Greens Leader and Aboriginal Affairs spokesperson
When Braddon MP, Joan Rylah, tabled her Notice of Motion in Parliament yesterday it was designed to divide the Tasmanian Aboriginal community, over the Liberals' plan to re-open 4WD tracks in Arthur Pieman Conservation Area.*
The real problem here is that the Premier has said he is committed to resetting the relationship with Aboriginal Tasmanians yet he has one of his backbenchers seeking to be directly divisive within the Aboriginal community.
There is no justification for Mrs Rylah to undermine the Premier's commitment to resetting the relationship with Aboriginal Tasmanians, and to set Aboriginal people against each other.
You don't reset a relationship by allowing your Braddon backbencher to pit one Aboriginal organisation against another and advocate for the destruction of Aboriginal heritage in the Tarkine.
You can't have it both ways, a backbencher being divisive and a Premier saying he wants to bring people together.
We hope the Premier can pull his rogue backbencher into line.
* Mrs Rylah to move—That the House:—
(a) the Hodgman Government supports a balanced approach to the access to the tracks and the wonderful recreational opportunity of the Arthur Pieman Conservation Area;
(b) the recent Federal Court decision to prevent access, following the lock-up by now Leader of the Opposition is very regrettable and has once again excluded and marginalised the local aboriginal people or Circular Head Aboriginal Corporation (CHAC);
(c) CHAC has over 600 members and this compares to around only 150 members state-wide for the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre Inc. (TAC) making CHAC representative of four times the number of aboriginal people than the TAC;
(d) the Hobart based TAC has consistently run rough-shod over the views of the local aboriginal community in Circular Head and this House condemns the TAC’s continued failure to recognise their own Tasmanian kith and kin;
(e) Circular Head Aboriginal Corporation said following the Federal Court decision ‘‘We think it’s the wrong decision ... it feels like we’ve once again been isolated by a decision that impacts everyone in the community and our viewpoint hasn’t been heard”;
(f) the local Aboriginal community welcomes recreational users in the area, as long as they treat culturally sensitive areas with respect including supporting the proposal for the fencing of middens, gravelling of roads and interpretive signage; and
(g) some recreational users have disrespected the areas but CHAC believes the solution lies in education and the whole community has a role to play in that ... locking the tracks up isn’t the answer.
(2) Calls on the decision makers, including the Federal Government and agencies to respectfully include the vast majority, including the local aboriginal people, when determining issues of access, use and heritage values. (15 March 2016)