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Parks - Arthur-Pieman Conservation Area

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Thursday, 9 September 2021

Tags: Arthur Pieman Conservation Area, Aboriginal Heritage, takayna / Tarkine, State Budget

Dr WOODRUFF - Minister, the review of Aboriginal heritage in the Arthur Pieman Conservation Area (APCA) made some incredibly important findings about the enormous Aboriginal heritage significance of that area. Your response as a government has been to - the media release that was put out immediately after it didn't really make any comments about the Aboriginal heritage values or the importance of preserving them. It seems that you've been downplaying the importance of protecting those areas.

There's $10 million, I understand, put into the Arthur-Pieman Conservation Area and stopping four wheel drives from trashing that unique heritage. I would like to understand how that's going to be spent? How much of that money is going into the Aboriginal rangers and into preserving the heritage and making sure it can't be further destroyed?

Mrs PETRUSMA - The Government did withdraw from the Public Environment Report based on the Aboriginal cultural values assessment and we've committed $10 million over three years to improve recreational driving opportunities within the area. As part of that there's going to be a lot of critical planning undertaken in regard to the APCA and the West Coast more generally.

Most importantly of all is to develop a West Coast four wheel drive strategy to identify what existing tracks can be improved and hardened. The members of the APCA management committee, as well as the West Coast Council, are very determined that people do stick to the tracks that are there and also the resourcing is in place to ensure that Parks and Wildlife Service are there to help protect the natural and cultural values of the area. I know that Mr Jacobi is undertaking a body of work for more rangers at Arthur River to help protect the area.

We're also looking at whether we need a new management plan to protect the natural and cultural values, whether there's legislative change; there's a whole range of measures in place. I'll ask Mr Jacobi to add further comment.

Dr WOODRUFF - The question was how much money out of that $10 million is going to protect the -

Mrs PETRUSMA - Quite a substantial amount.

Mr JACOBI - Regarding the expenditure of the $10 million, there are a number of immediate priorities. The first, and probably the most significant, is to increase the ranger capacity at Arthur River. In consultation with the APCA management committee it has been agreed that the first priority should be to increase the staffing at Arthur River by at least one additional full-time equivalent. We will be commencing recruitment to that position.

Dr WOODRUFF - Aboriginal ranger.

Mr JACOBI - My preference certainly is that it's an Aboriginal person but we have had real challenges recruiting. When we have advertised for Aboriginal specified positions in the north-west we have had challenges recruiting people for those positions. I've been advised that we should go for an open merit process, and hopefully that process will identify an Aboriginal person for the role. That certainly is my preference, but it has been difficult. The first priority is to recruit a permanent, full-time position.

The other recommendation was that we need a position to help project manage all of these works. There are significant planning, recreational, strategic work and capital works that will be undertaken as part of this $10 million. We need a position to help deliver on that.

The next most important thing is around compliance. The recommendation is that we should allocate at least $20 000 in the next 12 months, targeted at compliance activities in corporation with Tasmania Police. That would support the effective deployment of bespoke PWS-compliant staff and Police staff to help protect and manage recreational use.

Dr WOODRUFF - That leaves $9.7 million or thereabouts. We're spending $300 000 on protection of an area that's been trashed.

Mrs PETRUSMA - The new management plan is about $750 000, I think.

Mr JACOBI - There is a suite of plans. I can detail all the plans if you would like, Dr Woodruff.

Dr WOODRUFF - To save the committee's time could I ask that as a question on notice?

Mrs PETRUSMA - It is important that we outline them now.

Mr JACOBI - One of the key things that was recommended was a recreational 4 wheel West Coast strategy, with an approximate cost of around $350 000. That was identified as a number one priority to be undertaken over the next 12 months. There will be key stakeholder consultation in the delivery of that strategy. It will identify existing tracks up and down the whole of the west coast from Marrawah in the north to Macquarie Heads in the south, and how they can be made safe and sustainable.

We have a plan for the APCA, but it is 20 years old. It doesn't acknowledge or reflect the National Heritage Listing of the Western Tasmanian Aboriginal Cultural Landscape. We are of the view that we should develop a contemporary planning instrument for the APCA and the WACTL. That will need to involve conversations with the Commonwealth Government and will be a costly exercise. To deliver on that plan will require a huge amount of consultation not only with the Aboriginal community but also with the broader west coast community. The cost of a planning process like that could typically be in the order of $750 000. It is a process that we don't have the capacity to do in-house in the Parks and Wildlife Service, and we will be outsourcing a specialist company to work with us to deliver on that plan.