Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche


Burke’s broken promise misleads the public


Tarkine National Coalition has reacted angrily to the latest chapter in Environment Minister Tony Burke’s campaign of misinformation regarding the Tarkine National Heritage assessment.

The Minister made comment on ABC Mornings (936 Tasmania) that he did not have in his possession any report from the Australian Heritage Council supporting a permanent listing of the Tarkine.

This is at odds with our reading of the Australian Heritage Council report from September 2010 which supported the permanent listing of 433,000 hectares it had assessed as having National Heritage Values. Minister Burke has refused to publically release this report, despite FOI requests from the ABC last year.

“The Minister is clearly failing in his responsibilities here, and is spinning mistruths to try and cover up his complicity in promoting mining in the Tarkine wilderness reserves,” said Tarkine National Coalition spokesperson Scott Jordan.

The Minister received this report two months before allowing the Tarkine’s Emergency National Heritage Listing to lapse. He then sent the AHC back to reassess the area, with a substantial budget cut and no capacity to complete the work before 2013. This will effectively shepherd up to ten new mine proposals through an EPBC process that cannot in the absence of a listing, legally consider impacts on National Heritage Values such as wilderness, rainforest, geological significance (fossil sites and karst systems), aesthetic character, Indigenous or European cultural heritage.

This mirrors the strategy applied by the Minister at the controversial Brighton By-pass in southern Tasmania and at James Price Point in northern WA, where once EPBC assessments were underway, a National Heritage Listing was applied that could have no legal effect on those ongoing assessments.

Independent advice from Andrew Macintosh, Associate Director of the ANU Centre for Climate Law and Policy confirms that the AHC report does in fact refer to a permanent listing, and advises that the AHC’s terms of reference only allow it to report on whether an area has National Heritage Values and prevents it from making ‘qualified’ or ‘preliminary’ findings. The correspondence from Mr Macintoshcan be downloaded below..

“It becomes impossible to have reasonable dealings with a Minister who won’t stick to the rules, and won’t tell the truth”.

“The Minister must immediately release the Australian Heritage Council’s Tarkine report from September 2010”.

A leaked copy of the report can be downloaded below.

The TNC and partner groups (WWF, Australian Conservation Foundation, The Wilderness Society, Tasmanian Conservation Trust, Environment Tasmania and North West Environment Centre) resubmitted a Emergency National Heritage Listing nomination last week, triggered by the threats to National Heritage Values of the Mount Lindsay and other mining proposals.

The resubmitting of the Tarkine Road proposal by the Tasmanian Government called into play a promise made by Minister Burke last December that if the Tarkine Road was resubmitted, that he would immediately re-list the Tarkine. The Minister has failed to deliver on this promise.

“The failure to reapply a Tarkine Emergency National Heritage Listing in response to the Tarkine Road referral clearly shows this Minister’s contempt for the responsibilities of his office, and clearly tells us that any promises he makes are worthless”.

“The key difference between this proposal and the former proposal is not the alterations to the route, but the fact that a mining company now needs this route for transporting product to ports”.


• Christine Milne: Burke places money and mines before Tarkine

Federal Environment Minister, Tony Burke, must explain why he will allow the assessment of mining proposals to occur in the Tarkine before acting on advice before him to permanently heritage list the region, Australian Greens Deputy Leader, Christine Milne said today.

“Minister Burke today claimed on ABC local radio to have no information leading to the emergency heritage listing of the Tarkine, but failed to mention a report buried in his department recommending the Tarkine be listed.

“The Environment Minister is playing into the hands of mining companies, who are no doubt jubilant of the 2013 deadline given to the Australian Heritage Council to determine whether permanent heritage listing should be put in place.

“By 2013, all ten of the mining proposals will be submitted to the department and any subsequent heritage listing will have no effect on their operations. The wilderness, geological and cultural values of the Tarkine will not be assessed.

“It is like putting on a seatbelt after your car has crashed.

“Minister Burke’s job has moved from a focus on natural and heritage values to one of being solely concerned with bleeding monetary value from the places he is supposed to protect.

“Peter Garrett placed emergency heritage listing on the Tarkine following the state government’s previous attempt at building a road, and now, with a similar application before him, as well as ten mining applications that will be seriously impinged by such a listing, we have Minister Burke reneging on his promise to heritage list the region should another road proposal be made.

“This ongoing, seven year process to determine heritage listing the Tarkine has become an embarrassment to Australia whose governments persistently fail to recognise the value of this natural jewel.

“Minister Burke has everything at his disposal for immediately placing the Tarkine on the National Heritage list. Act now, Minister Burke, before these mines have your name all over them.”

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  1. Robert

    December 6, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    The Tarkine should and will be protected at whatever economical cost, because the monetary profit from minerals mined will not make up for the environmental damage created.

  2. Dr Kevin Bonham

    December 4, 2011 at 12:38 am

    If this really is the biggest battle since the dams issue (#11) then many of those fighting it will have to lift their game instead of resting too much of their case on tenuous and/or bogus claims about Tasmanian devils (as I’ve documented here several times before). It’s especially amusing to see an angry reaction to “Minister Tony Burke’s campaign of misinformation” when the public campaign for intervention has itself been so riddled with nonsense.

  3. john hayward

    December 3, 2011 at 7:42 pm

    I can’t agree with Karl, #13.

    If a genuine triple bottom line was ever comprehensively implemented, particularly in respect to environmental matters, it would switch off nearly all the green lights the Tas govt reflexively flashes for any resource extractors who bat their eyes at them.

    John Hayward

  4. Karl Stevens

    December 2, 2011 at 10:45 pm

    Pete Godfrey 12. My understanding is the geologically ancient West Coast has been a bonanza for mining over more than a century. I agree subsidies are not necessary. The companies are making a fortune, mostly at the expense of their own shareholders. No Australian government is going to say no to mining, especially now that the mining resources rent tax is paying their bloated super funds. (unlimited free air travel for ever included)
    In my view it would be more productive for Scott Jordan to find out what and where the deposits are, tell us all here at Tas Times and together we can have those areas excluded from a future Tarkine Heritage Area. The world markets are not always our enemy. Hasn’t the global market done more to save Tasmania’s native forests than decades of green activism?

  5. Pete Godfrey

    December 2, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    #10 Garry, there are no direct grants that I know of yet.
    Unless you count building a road for Mining and Logging access to the area as a grant. I do.
    What will happen is that he industry will start up, then say “oh it is not viable without some subsidies” then we put our hand in the the till and hand over heaps of money. Just like all the other mining ventures on the west coast. The companies accept the money then close the mine down not long after.
    You can guarantee that the government will pay in the end.
    We will pay for the new “mining and forestry road”
    We will upgrade port facilities.
    We will pay for road damage and bridge damage. Which is what the original Tarkine loop road proposal was about, it was to rebuild two bridges that have washed away before, the Tayatea bridge being one of them.
    We may not hear of incentive grants to attract the miners but you can bet that a certain minister from the west will be handing grants out like lollies.

  6. hadenuff

    December 2, 2011 at 8:24 pm

    Please keep up the pressure on the Minister.
    Saving the Tarkine is the biggest battle since the Dams issue,this is one that cannot be lost.

  7. Garry Stannus

    December 2, 2011 at 8:02 pm

    #8 Hi Pete, forgive my ignorance, are there grants involved with the mining proposals in the Tarkine?

  8. David Leigh

    December 2, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    “This proposal is for a National Heritage Area in the Tarkine Wilderness in North-West Tasmania. The proposal covers an area of 447,000 ha. The word ‘Tarkine’ has been adopted for the region in recognition of the Tarkine (Tar.kine.ner) people who occupied the Sandy Cape region of the Tarkine’ Coast for many thousands of years.”

    Excerpt from the leaked AHC recommendation – September 2010

    How short are the memories of some politicians; do they not remember a certain hydro project?
    Obviously, we are not going to sit back and let the region be destroyed by avarice, any more than we will allow this pulp mill to get built in the Tamar Valley. Australia has many mining sites and exports possibly more minerals than any other country on Earth. This pristine remnant, on the other hand, has remained untouched for millions of years. If Burke does not protect the Tarkine then I have to agree with Barnaby, he should be held to account for dishonesty.

  9. Pete Godfrey

    December 2, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    There is no money for hospitals, police, mobile phones for police, anything that is good for people, but there is always money available for Forestry and Mining.
    From what I can recall every mine venture that has received grants from the government has failed. All we ever get back is the privelege of cleaning up the mess and a hole in the ground.
    Part of the Tarkine have already been destroyed comprehensively by Forestry Tasmania, it is time to protect the rest from both of these rapacious subsidy collectors

  10. salamander

    December 2, 2011 at 12:46 am

    Burke likes to make out he is a man of the people, and responds when he gets enough signals from the people to act for the environment. Yesterday he was complaining about the hijacking of his twitter account by tweets about the Tarkine – but still he won’t do what the people want. Seems to me we have a puppet whose strings are completely controlled by corporations.

  11. Karl Stevens

    December 1, 2011 at 11:18 pm

    Garry Stannus says the Tarkine should be protected. I say the whole island should be protected. This ‘compartmentalised’ thinking within the Greens is fatal for diversity and the survival of threatened species. Species die without genetic diversity. Thats exactly what is happening in this ‘high conservation-low conservation’ patchwork quilt these pseudo-environmentalists have created.
    In future generations it will be realised the greens wiped-out more species than all the mining put together. Lets live in the World Conservation area and mine Sandy Bay. Lets get some new thinking into this genetically crippled island.

  12. Russell

    December 1, 2011 at 9:51 pm

    Can anyone name a promise Environment Minister Burke has kept, or a decision being made which favoured the environment over business interests?

  13. Garry Stannus

    December 1, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    I agree that the Tarkine should be protected.

  14. john hayward

    December 1, 2011 at 8:38 pm

    The Minister would see his responsibility as being to himself, his party, and to their major political contributors.

    His apparent dishonesty, or ignorance, is merely a consequence of these priorities.

    John Hayward

  15. Barnaby Drake

    December 1, 2011 at 8:05 pm

    “The key difference between this proposal and the former proposal is not the alterations to the route, but the fact that a mining company now needs this route for transporting product to ports”.

    Is it not just as I predicted? All infrastructure for these mining companies will be paid for by us. Here the original estimate was for $24 Million as a starters. Expect the real cost to be dramatically understated so that they can get their approval before announcing the usual blow-out! And that’s just the start of it. That also means that the Tourism budget will take the hit, but strangely, Forestry will also be able to us this road as the Tarkine is no longer protected. It will then be discovered by TasPorts that they need to upgrade their port facilities somewhere in the West to benefit the local inhabitants and they require another Sqillion Dollars and of course, create a couple of thousand jobs, etc.


    The economy has been saved. Your pensions are safe. A new mining tax will see us all happy and prosperous and MP’s will be able to have their blocked salary increases paid. A replay of the famous once Gunns proposals.

    All we need now is an education bus to train the kiddies for the future.


  16. Barnaby Drake

    December 1, 2011 at 7:46 pm

    I remember Kim Booth asking a question of the Tasmanian Minister, then waving a sheaf of shredded documents as proof that the Minister was lying. The result, the Minister was forced to resign for ‘misleading’ (lying to) Parliament. Steve Kons is no more.

    Could not the same thing happen in the Federal Parliament with Minister Burke?

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