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Lake Malbena - Risks to Aboriginal Heritage

Parliamentary Activity - Tuesday, 27 November 2018, Cassy O'Connor MP


Ms O'CONNOR question to PREMIER, Mr HODGMAN

Today, hundreds of Tasmanians will gather in Town Hall in opposition to the proposal to build permanent huts and allow up to 120 to 240 - who knows how many - helicopter flights and landings in Lake Malbena in the Walls of Jerusalem National Park, enabled by your corrupted EOI process.

Part of the proposal includes tours to a sacred cultural site, located only a few kilometres from the camp. It features a rock overhang with Aboriginal petroglyphs, believed to be more than 8 000 years old. It is a place considered so sacred that many Tasmanians Aborigines have never visited it themselves -

Ms Archer - You have not got to the question yet.

Ms O'CONNOR - Why are you sniping away there, Minister for Environment?

Ms Archer - You have not got to the question. Is there a question?

Ms O'CONNOR - I am not asking you the question. I am asking the Minister for Parks and Premier.

It is a place considered so sacred that many Tasmanian Aborigines have never visited it themselves yet we understand the proponent is proposing taking tour groups of his high-end clientele to visit the site.

In their damning submission to the flawed federal assessment, the Tasmanian -

Ms Archer interjecting.

Ms O'CONNOR - Why are you still sniping away? I am trying to ask a question.

Madam SPEAKER - Order. There has been enough yelling here to be heard in Launceston. I want this to calm down. I want behaviour on both sides of the House. Please allow Ms O'Connor to ask her question.

Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you, Madam Speaker. In their damning submission to the flawed federal assessment, the Tasmanian Aboriginal Heritage Council condemned the proposal and raised the alarm yet they were ignored.

Why are you ignoring the Aboriginal Heritage Council and enabling a development which places their priceless heritage at risk?

 

ANSWER

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for the question. I again point to fact that this proposal has received a favourable assessment via the robust Commonwealth assessment process through the EPBC. Despite what some might say, it included the receipt of 900 submissions, including expert submissions, and that found that it will not impact on matters of national environmental significance.

Ms O'Connor - So they know more than the Aboriginal Heritage Council?

Mr HODGMAN - That is the finding of that process. Without wanting to delay the House by going through all the other parts of the process that this proposal will need to go through, including local government assessments, it is our view and the view of most Tasmanians that proposals that are able to satisfy those tests should receive what the Greens so often demand of proponents, and that is a social licence.

Ms O'Connor - The Anglers Alliance, the Bushwalking Club, fly-tyers.

Madam SPEAKER - Order, Ms O'Connor.

Mr HODGMAN - They are doing everything that the Greens would normally expect pass those processes and those expert assessments.

Regarding the Aboriginal Heritage Council, as part of their application and the Commonwealth assessment process, the proponents sought advice from the Aboriginal Heritage Tasmania office, which advised that the site has low probability of Aboriginal heritage being present.

I can confirm that the proposed guided tours to nearby identified cultural sites that are the cause for concerns raised by the Aboriginal Heritage Council and others are not approved under this stage of the proposed development. Access to these sites is subject to a second stage of the proposal and further consultation with Aboriginal communities. The proponent has also consulted with the Aboriginal Heritage Council and has detailed its approach to the management protection of Aboriginal heritage values if discovered.

The proponent is required to apply an unanticipated discovery plan to any relics found during the course of building the standing camps or pathways around the camp or during the operation of the camp. All Aboriginal relics in Tasmania have protection under Aboriginal heritage legislation.

My Government is committed to the protection of Tasmania's indigenous cultural heritage. That is why in 2017 amendments were made to improve the operation of the act, including greater clarity of permit processes and increases to penalties for breaching the acts. These amendments also required the act to be reviewed within three years. That upcoming review process will enable all Aboriginal people along with the wider community to have their say on the operation of the act, including the role of the Aboriginal Heritage Council.