Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

Tarkine added to National Heritage List

Media release
8 February 2013

Federal Environment Minister, Tony Burke, today announced that the indigenous values of the Tarkine in Tasmania’s North West will be included on the National Heritage List.

“Today, the Western Tasmania Aboriginal Cultural Landscape will become the 98th place protected on the National Heritage List,” Mr Burke said.

“The sites include some of the best evidence of the lifestyle of Aboriginal people in the area, with groups moving seasonally up and down the west coast of Tasmania, and the economic development of the communities.

“Aboriginal hut depressions and middens on the west coast are exceptional, as they represent an unusual, specialised and more sedentary Aboriginal way of life based on the hunting of seals and land mammals and the gathering of shellfish.

“This is a little known part of part of Australia’s Aboriginal heritage and the listing will help tell it to the wider public.

“I acknowledge that my decision today is not the outcome for the Tarkine that many groups were seeking. I have tried to find a boundary which would incorporate the natural values without delivering unacceptable social and economic outcomes.

“Tasmania has the highest unemployment rate in Australia and this region has the highest unemployment rate in Tasmania. I simply haven’t been able to find a way to recognise the natural heritage values with a boundary that will find a balance.

“For this reason I have decided to only put the indigenous values on the national heritage list.

Some of the Tarkine forest areas not included in the listing will potentially receive higher levels of protection in the agreement currently sitting with the Tasmanian Parliament.

“Any environmental decisions within the area will still fully cover the needs of threatened species such as the Tassie devil.

“I have visited the Tarkine twice over the past year; I have met with local mining and industry groups to understand the economic development issues of the region and I camped with environment groups.

“There has never been an issue in my time as Environment Minister where my views have changed so fundamentally after a site visit. I was expecting to see a pristine area pretty much covered in rainforest. The truth of the industrial history and current industrial activity in the Tarkine is quite different to these images.

“The best protection for the forests identified in the listing is agreement currently sitting with the Tasmanian Parliament.”

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