Rally message: we want Tarkine mines

ABOUT 3000 people rallied in Burnie yesterday in support of new and existing mines operating in the Tarkine.

The pro-mining rally, organised by the Australian Workers Union, was organised to oppose any heritage listing of the Tarkine region.

Two years ago a 12-month emergency national heritage listing was placed on the Tarkine by the federal government. The Australian Greens and environment groups want a permanent listing.

The rally came as the Tarkine National Coalition announced plans for a summer campaign to fight for heritage protection and lobby group GetUp expressed its concern over pro-mining statements from the union.

Australian Workers Union national secretary Paul Howes and Circular Head Deputy Mayor John Oldaker were met with cheers when they addressed the event.

Mr Oldaker called for an early state election.

Premier Lara Giddings and Deputy Premier Bryan Green received some heckling and abuse when they spoke.

The rally followed a union-organised march to Parliament Square in Hobart by Mr Howes and 60 mine workers.

Mr Howes said yesterday's turnout had exceeded expectations.

"It's clearly demonstrated that a majority of people of the North-West want a solution about the Tarkine and largely oppose the blanket heritage listing of the region being proposed by the Greens," he said.

Rosebery miner of 34 years Mal Jago last participated in a rally more than two decades ago when 300 miners marched in Hobart against changes to workers' compensation.

He said he had been compelled to participate in yesterday's industrial uprising for the sake of jobs in the region.

"If the environment movement do get 440,000 hectares of the Tarkine locked up, it will only leave existing mines operating," he said.

"Although they have 20 or 30 years' life left in them, they operate depending on global economic circumstances.

"If they close, the workers have nowhere else to go."

Mr Jago said miners wanted to dispel myths about their industry that had been spread by the environmental movement.

He said the mining industry was more environmentally focused now than it was decades ago.

"We don't want to rape and pillage the area, and miners would be the first to say that pristine parts of the wilderness should be better protected if they needed it," he said.

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