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Aboriginal Affairs – Four-Wheel Driving in takayna

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Wednesday, 7 June 2023

Tags: takayna / Tarkine, 4WD Tracks, State Budget

Dr WOODRUFF - Are you aware of concerns about the degradation of the cultural landscapes by four-wheel driving in takayna? The current degradation, I mean, not the past.

Mr JAENSCH - There's a range of matters you could be referring to there. Do you want to be more specific? We do have work underway within the Arthur-Pieman Conservation Area regarding management of off-road vehicle use -

Dr WOODRUFF - Just two weeks ago.

Mr JAENSCH - for example, operations that Parks have undertaken with the police on a few recent holiday weekends to ensure that people are aware of their obligations. We've got a $10 million investment package which is intended to ensure sustainable use of access through the Arthur Pieman Conservation Area for off-road users as well.

There's a matter that was raised recently by the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre who indicated that they'd observed people driving off-road in buggies, et cetera, in areas in the Arthur Pieman. Which are you referring to?

Dr WOODRUFF - There are so many documented occurrences of damage to our 40 000 year-old cultural heritage. The most recent was reported in the Mercury on 14 April, with new documented destruction of Aboriginal heritage sites.

Are you concerned that Police minister Felix Ellis said that the conflict was not black and white. He claimed that many indigenous people in the Circular Head Council area are really passionate about four-wheel drive use, which is, effectively, encouraging, or not discouraging, illegal access and destruction of Aboriginal heritage? Are you concerned that the Police minister made those comments?

Mr JAENSCH - Yet again, I'm not going to get -

Dr WOODRUFF - Do you agree?

Mr JAENSCH - I'm not going to get drawn into your characterisation of my attitude to other people. Mr Ellis can speak -

Dr WOODRUFF - How would you characterise the Police minister who says that indigenous people are really passionate about four-wheel driving?

Mr JAENSCH - I don't go around characterising people, Dr Woodruff.

Dr WOODRUFF - I'm asking you to give an opinion on the Police minister's comments.

Mr JAENSCH - I don't want to provide an opinion on anybody's comments. That's not what I'm here for. That's not my job as a minister. We are engaging as the Parks and Wildlife Service with Tas Police and others on compliance activities in the Arthur-Pieman Conservation Area to deal with any offences with people travelling on closed tracks or without the appropriate licences or permits, which have been in place for a long time. And we'll continue to do that. We need to ensure that people who are found guilty of causing damage or otherwise interfering with matters protected under the Aboriginal Heritage Act receive the maximum penalty for doing so, and we will continue to be vigilant in that regard.

As I said before, we're also working on a longer-term plan for management of access in the Arthur-Pieman Conversation Area, including the Western Tasmanian Aboriginal Cultural Landscape areas, to ensure that we are moving away from the abrading of tracks and the expanding of the footprint of vehicle access off the legal tracks into the landscape, causing damage. There is a program of work which is investing $10 million to ensure that.

If we have brought to us evidence of people behaving illegally in the Arthur Pieman Conservation Area and damaging heritage, we'll act on it.

Dr WOODRUFF - Do you agree that it is illegal to damage those middens by driving four-wheel drives over them?

Mr JAENSCH - It is illegal to damage Aboriginal heritage anywhere.