The Tasmanian Government's application, known as a referral, seeks approval to build almost 3km of new tracks; cover aboriginal middens with plastic matting so 4WDs can drive over them; build fences around remote, spectacular and sensitive heritage sites; and undertake other construction works.
Aboriginal community leaders, experts in Aboriginal cultural heritage, historians, environmentalists and proponents of reconciliation, oppose the proposal.
The Wilderness Society submission contends:
- The construction works will have a significant impact on nationally significant cultural and natural heritage;
- Federal Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg should deem the construction works ‘clearly unacceptable’ and urge Premier Hodgman to properly protect heritage values;
- The construction works facilitates 4WDing and evidence demonstrates that these vehicles and their drivers will also negatively impact heritage values;
- The application by the Tasmanian Government is incomplete, erroneous and contradictory;
- The Government has failed to undertake heritage surveys (as promised to the Federal Court) and instead has relied on pre-2012 surveys and reports that were critical to the recommendations to close the tracks in the first place.
With the resignation of Environment Minister Matthew Groom, Premier and Aboriginal Affairs Minister Will Hodgman should take control of this process and withdraw the application before further damage is done to his government’s legacy, credibility with regard to reconciliation and his personal commitment to ‘reset the relationship’ between the government and Aboriginal Tasmania.