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West Coast Off-Road Vehicle Strategy - Aboriginal Heritage Assessment

Vica Bayley MP

Vica Bayley MP  -  Tuesday, 14 November 2023

Tags: Aboriginal Heritage


Your staff and consultants have been briefing stakeholders on progress on the $10 million West Coast Off-Road Vehicle Strategy, announced as a face-saver when your Government was forced to finally abandon plans to expand four-wheel drive tracks on the takayna coast. The strategy is looking at a range of things including expanded tracks and campsites in areas nationally listed for their Aboriginal heritage values. The briefing details background research already conducted, including research into four-wheel drive policy across Australia, an inventory of existing tracks, and market research into the off-road user market. Despite being raised during the process, a concern for Aboriginal heritage is not raised in the stakeholder views.

Can you confirm if an Aboriginal heritage assessment has been completed as part of the background research for this strategy? If not, given the Aboriginal heritage significance of the area and likely assessment under federal legislation, why is market research more important than understanding the extent of Aboriginal heritage values and the predicted impact of driving over them?



Mr Speaker, I thank the member for his question. The Rockliff Liberal Government is proud of our world-class national parks, reserves, and crown lands. A total 52 per cent of Tasmania is in a system of reserves and parks and we are fortunate that wherever we live we can enjoy the benefits of these natural areas. I give a nod to the former minister for parks; it is an honour and a privilege to fill this portfolio. Our parks draw people from all over the world to experience their wonder with our natural flora and fauna and our landscapes.

To the question around the Arthur-Pieman Conservation Area and the tracks consultation that is happening at the moment, Parks is continuing to manage compliance around vehicle use in the APCA with increased activity during the busier time of the year between November and Easter. Compliance activity typically includes one or two joint operations with Tasmania Police, and I am advised there is a variety of penalties.

Mr Bayley - This is about the strategy, minister.

Mr DUIGAN - In the preparation of the west coast off-road vehicle strategy, which is a $10 million investment, looking at driver safety, track management and new amenities and experiences across the whole of the west coast, consultation for that process is happening as we speak

Mr Bayley - Have you done a heritage assessment?

Mr DUIGAN - I am informed that consultation process is tracking well.

PWS has engaged with Tasmanian business, inspiring players to assist in the development of the strategy. This work has commenced and, importantly, the west coast off road vehicle strategy is being developed in consultation with our key stakeholders, which include West Coast and Circular Head councils, Tasmanian Aboriginal people and there is a range of public consultation

Mr Bayley - Have you done an Aboriginal heritage survey?

Mr SPEAKER - Order.

Mr DUIGAN - An interim report was presented to the Arthur-Pieman Conservation Area Management Committee held early last month. The objectives of that strategy are to provide access, create distinctive points of difference, identify the network of tracks and associated facilities that will be feasible to develop and identify new track development

Mr BAYLEY - Point of order, Mr Speaker. We are well into this question now and the minister has not gone anywhere near the issue of an Aboriginal heritage survey and whether that has been conducted as part of this exercise.

Mr SPEAKER - Again, I inform the minister of Standing Order 45 and relevance to the question.

Mr DUIGAN - Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.

As part of the statutory processes in terms of consultation, the Tasmanian Government was required to complete an assessment of the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage in the area of the closed tracks. This work was undertaken by well-respected specialists with the pre-requisite qualifications to undertake the necessary Aboriginal heritage assessments -

Mr Bayley - Have you done the strategy for these new ones?

Mr SPEAKER - Order.

Mr DUIGAN - and identified that reopening these tracks as an unacceptable risk to the significant and extensive Aboriginal heritage that exists in the region.

I am advised that mitigating factors were considered, including alternative options to bypass coastal landscape. However, there is no practical or feasible alternative inland route that does not trigger the EPBC act and the list of obligations and constraints.

Mr BAYLEY - Point of order, Mr Speaker, on relevance. We know that history and that is why the Government could not open its tracks.

Mr SPEAKER - Order. A point of order is not an opportunity to expand the argument. You can stand on a point of order of relevance. I have already informed the minister of that. The minister is allowed to answer the question. Interjections in the sense of a point of order are highly unparliamentary.

Mr DUIGAN - Thank you, Mr Speaker. Consultation is continuing.