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Adjournment - Bob Brown Foundation and Patagaonia Environmental Petition

Parliamentary Activity - Wednesday, 28 November 2018, Cassy O'Connor MP


Ms O'CONNOR (Clark - Leader of the Greens) - Madam Speaker, I have the great pleasure tonight to table the largest environmental petition in Australia's history. It is not in the correct form of the House -

Madam SPEAKER - You need to seek leave to present that.

Ms O'CONNOR - Well, it is not a petition in the form but I seek the leave of the House to present Australia's largest-ever environmental petition. It is the coordinated work of the Bob Brown Foundation and Patagonia and has on it 252 000 signatures, which is just under half the population of Tasmania.

Ms Courtney - Cassy, can I clarify if that is the one that has been seen by us? No?

Mr Ferguson - We haven't seen it. Do you want to show us the petition?

Ms O'CONNOR - Sure. Just while other members are having a look at it, Madam Speaker - and it is a legitimate petition - in June 2018 Patagonia, an outdoor company, and the Bob Brown Foundation launched a campaign calling for Premier Hodgman to nominate takayna/Tarkine for World Heritage protection. Over the following months 252 000 people as at midday on 27 November signed the petition. Just over 72 000 were Australian residents and the remaining were from 136 countries around the world, and parliamentary records and the research that has been commissioned show this is indeed the biggest environmental petition ever tabled in Australia's history.

This is no longer a local campaign. The Tarkine as a wilderness and place of extraordinary natural and cultural heritage is a place that people all over Tasmania, Australia and the world recognise for its extraordinary universal values. It is a wilderness on our doorstep and tragically for the Tarkine and all those who defend it, it is a wilderness that the old parties in this place want to log, mine and, from the Liberals' point of view, open up 4WD tracks and close tracks in the Tarkine that would damage, often permanently, sacred archaeological treasures of Tasmania's first peoples. The Tarkine, or takayna, is one of the world's great wildernesses and is under threat at this very day. There are rainforest reserves and conservation areas in takayna that this Liberal Government wants to log. They want to let logging companies in to log myrtle, sassafras and celery top, those extraordinary trees that are part of our rainforest estate in Tasmania.

It is very disappointing to everyone who participates in this campaign that the Premier would not take the time to receive this petition that was started in June. Patagonia and the Bob Brown Foundation were seeking an opportunity to meet with the current Premier, Will Hodgman, to hand over this petition, but that opportunity was denied, which is why we have brought it into the House tonight.

For members who have not paid attention to the details of this beautiful place right there on our doorstep, the Tarkine is a 495 000-hectare region in north-west Tasmania and one of the last undisturbed tracts of ancient rainforest in the world. It also includes one of the highest concentrations of Aboriginal archaeology in the hemisphere with evidence on that coastline of Aboriginal heritage dating back tens of thousands of years.

This area is critical habitat for 60 of Tasmania's rare and endangered species, including the Tasmanian giant freshwater crayfish, the Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagle and the iconic Tasmanian devil. Despite the takayna/Tarkine's immense archaeological and cultural values it remains unprotected and at the mercy of destructive extraction industries including logging and mining.

The Minister for Parks and current Premier, Will Hodgman, has the responsibility to protect this landscape in perpetuity as a World Heritage Area and national park that is owned and managed by Tasmania's first people. Researchers have already identified that takayna/Tarkine meets several of the 10 outstanding universal values criteria for world heritage listing. A world heritage area designation would benefit the ecological and cultural integrity of the landscape and it would create economic opportunities for the north-west coast community as a result of increased sustainable tourism.

I commend the petition to the House. I also, on behalf of the Tasmanian Greens, thank the Bob Brown Foundation, the Tarkine National Coalition and Tasmanians and Australians from all walks of life who defend that beautiful place, recognise it is a wilderness that is precious to the world, to our children and our grandchildren and will defend it with their last breath, so extraordinary is the takayna/Tarkine. I commend the petition to the House. Further, I acknowledge that Tarkine defenders gathered in their hundreds on the lawns of parliament last night. I congratulate them and thank them for bringing their protest and their campaign back to the lawns of parliament.

If you would like to prevent the largest environmental petition in the country from being tabled, do have a crack at it, Mr Barnett.

Mr Barnett - We support you tabling it and we would like you to show us the petition.

Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you. I will find the front page. They are the words on the front page of the petition. If you are happy for me, in good faith, to bring that back to you tomorrow, I will do that. Thank you, Mr Barnett.