An emergency heritage listing for North-West Tasmania's Tarkine was rejected by the federal government last week, but the debate still rages. Environmentalists say the iconic area needs to be protected, which was supported in an Australian Heritage Council report. Others say it already has all the protection it needs. Now three possible mining ventures threaten the area's national h
eritage values, or, further heritage listing of the Tarkine could be a threat to the mining opportunities. It depends which side of the argument you are on. Tarkine National Coalition spokesman Scott Jordan and Save Our Heritage Group convener Tony Fletcher explain why they are on opposite sides of the argument. VALUING RECENT LAND USE
THE Tarkine brand name overlays a
very large but loosely defined area of
far north-west Tasmania. As a brand
name it has a high level of recognition.
Most would agree that an effort to build
on a highly recognisable brand name to
sell the attributes of a region is desirable.
Concern in the community is aroused
however when the ‘‘green machine’’ uses
the brand name to drive a campaign to
have the entire area listed as National
Heritage and eventually classified by the
State Government as a National Park. If
successful the campaign of the Tarkine
National Coalition will perpetrate an
injustice on local people leading to
negative impacts on both the Tasmanian
economy and the quality of life of its
people. The potential for conflict looms
Let’s get a few things straight.
The Tarkine, as nominated for National
Heritage listing, is already protected.
Land tenures include a national park, a
conservation area, regional reserves,
nature recreation areas, and State
The management objective of these
tenures is legislated under the National
Parks and Reserves Management Act
2002. To state that the Tarkine is
’unprotected’ is both false and misleading.
A significant part of the Tarkine is the
100,000 hectare Arthur Pieman
Conservation Area. The area is clearly
defined with a management plan and a
community of interest.
The Arthur Pieman Conservation Area
is a multiple use area. For thousands of
years Aboriginal bands took their summer
holidays in the area. They hunted,
gathered, procreated and used fire as a
land management tool.
For the last two hundred years we of the
modern world have explored, mined,
logged, built roads and hewed tracks,
prospected, hunted, fished, grazed cattle,
camped, built homes, developed farms,
harvested kelp, delivered tourism
experiences and developed communities.
The region is part of the Mt Reid
Volcanic Zone— one of the most highly
mineralised areas in the world.
During all this time man has nurtured
nature to sustain the special values of the
region. A dynamic process of assessment
and management continues today.
The Save Our Heritage group, formed in
2010, seeks through the state process
reasonable variations to the management
plan so that the social and cultural
heritage of the last 200 years is not
The Tarkine Coalition however, seeks
intervention at the federal level in an
effort to ride roughshod over state
processes. They hope that a Green balance
of power in the Senate will enable them to
achieve their goals.
We coasters visit the Arthur Pieman
very regularly. We have a proven social
and cultural attachment. It is where our
Sadly it seems the Greens and their
supporters see the Tarkine as a cash cow.
A means to gain more national publicity.
An opportunity to imagine a crisis. A
further chance for publicity through hype
and hyperbole. A WILD REFUGE TO PROTECT
THE Tarkine is a wild and ancient
landscape. This magnificent area
contains the largest temperate
rainforest in the southern hemisphere,
some of Australia’s richest Aboriginal
archaeological sites, globally significant
karst systems and a refuge for over 60
rare, threatened and endangered species.
Notably it is the last disease-free refuge
for the Tasmanian devil, and remains the
only hope to this critically endangered
species survival in the wild.
In 2009, the Cradle Coast Authority’s
Tarkine Tourism Development Strategy
identified a tourism industry around the
Tarkine supplying 1100 jobs by 2017, in a
way that respected and valued the unique
values of this area.
The imminent moratorium on logging
negotiated through the Statement of
Principles agreement will end logging in
the remaining HCV forests in the
Tarkine, removing the traditional longstanding
barrier to the proposal for a
The area was nominated for National
Heritage Listing in 2004. Between 2009
and 2010, an emergency national heritage
listing was in place as a result of the
threat from the Tarkine Loop Road
Environment Minister Tony Burke
allowed that listing to lapse in December
2010, despite receiving advice to the
contrary. That has now emerged in a
leaked Australian Heritage Council
report recommending a listing of 433,000
hectares of the Tarkine as a National
Heritage Area. The nominated area
excludes existing, operating mines in the
area. No current jobs are at risk.
So why did the minister reject the
advice of the AHC?
Enter the new players on the block.
Three companies, with plans to establish
new open cut mines in the Tarkine.
Each of these proposed mines will have
a detrimental effect on the Tarkine’s
national heritage values. Mines,
particularly open cut mines, affect subsurface
hydrology, impact on
watercourses, involve clearing of large
areas for pits, tailings dams and rock
dumps, and involve chemical processes in
processing of ore. They add fleets of heavy
vehicles to the roads raising the mortality
of herbivorous native wildlife and the
carnivores such as the Tasmanian devil,
which feeds on the carcasses.
For Tony Burke to state as he has that
there are no grounds for the
reintroduction of the emergency listing is
blatantly untrue. Section 324JL of the
Environment Protection and Biodiversity
Conservation Act states that:
Minister may include place in National
Heritage List if under threat
(1) If the Minister believes that:
(a) a place has or may have one or more
National Heritage values; and
(b) any of those values is under threat
of a significant adverse impact; and
(c) that threat is both likely and
It is clear that all three criteria have
been met. What is lacking is the
minister’s courage. Mines have become
the sacred cow of Australian politics, and
the environment the sacrificial lamb.