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Treasury – Takayna/Tarkine Tracks

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Monday, 23 November 2020

Tags: Aboriginal Heritage, takayna / Tarkine

Ms O'CONNOR - At the end of NAIDOC Week when we looked in the Budget papers we saw a $300 000 allocation to advance the tracks through the Tarkine. As you would be aware, because this is a matter that has come up in parliament any number of times and it is the Greens who have raised it, that coastline contains what is regarded by archeological experts and historians as one of the world's most significant archeological sites. It is now more than six years since your party came to Government on a promise to reopen tracks to four-wheel-drives through that priceless archeological heritage. Where is it at? Why have you not walked away from it? Can you understand why Aboriginal people in NAIDOC Week would have seen that and just felt sad?

Mr GUTWEIN - This has reminded me, there is cultural heritage survey work that has been under way for over 12 months. It is being led by a Tasmanian Aboriginal Heritage officer and several field specialists. That final report is expected, the note says before the end of November. I expect as a result of COVID-19 that that might have slowed down somewhat. I am happy to get an update on when we expect to receive that and what its advice is in regards to that matter.

Ms O'CONNOR - Putting aside the wrong of the policy in the first place, and what an insult it is to the palawa and the pakana, if the Aboriginal Heritage survey comes back and provides you with the truth, which is that this is a very significant archeological site, will you have the mettle to walk away from that policy?

Mr GUTWEIN - The work that is under way is to inform the public environment report that was required under the referral with the EPBC Act. For obvious reasons that report will be pivotal in whether approval will be given for those tracks to be opened up.

Ms O'CONNOR - Can I ask if, I do not know about this ratio today, gven that the policy in 2014 was in very significant part about winning seats in Braddon, are you prepared to tell the people of Braddon, whatever percentage it is that supported those tracks through archaeological sites, that the policy is no longer a goer?

Mr GUTWEIN - In terms of the policy, whether or not it's a goer will be determined by the report, the heritage survey work which is currently under way and the EPBC process.

Ms O'CONNOR - You're still committed to the policy, though?

Mr GUTWEIN - We are still committed to the policy but going through all the steps that are required.


Ms O'CONNOR - Treasurer, have you visited that area of the Tarkine coast near Arthur River, near Geoff King's old property?

Mr GUTWEIN - I am not sure which is Geoff King's property, but I have visited that part of the state, yes.

Ms O'CONNOR - It is near Marrawah. You would be aware of the hut depressions and of how significant that heritage is along that coast?

Mr GUTWEIN - Which is why we have a heritage consultant who is doing our report for us.

Ms O'CONNOR - I note there is funding set aside in the Budget for cultural awareness training. I wonder if you and Mr Jaensch have booked yourselves a spot, given that you want to put a track through priceless Aboriginal heritage?

Mr GUTWEIN - We will wait until we receive the report and ensure that we are fully informed of the view of heritage consultant.

Ms O'CONNOR - I am about to leave the table. I have one more question for you and this will be deja vu for you all over again, Treasurer.

Mr GUTWEIN - I am not sure whether I will get another opportunity to take a question from Mr O'Byrne, but to make the point concerning Hydro's borrowings. When I became Treasurer in August 2014, gross borrowings were $1.29 billion. Their borrowings in October 2020 was $733 million, $500 million less. By any measure, I can argue that under me, as Treasurer, their financial position and their balance sheet has improved dramatically.