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Burke must initiate Tarkine world heritage assessment

The federal Minister for Environment must explain why a review of the Tarkine's world heritage values was never made despite a pledge to do so almost five years ago, Australian Greens Deputy Leader, Christine Milne said today.

In 2007 a motion by former Democrats Senator, Andrew Bartlett, to recommend the Tarkine be assessed for world heritage values was passed by both major parties.

"Former Environment Minister, Malcolm Turnbull told the parliament that he had asked for this assessment to be done. It is now revealed that he did not do so and every environment minister since has failed to tell the Tasmanian people that it was never done.

"Why have Ministers Garrett and Burke done nothing to implement this to date? Minister Burke must act now and do what the Tasmanian community thought was already completed and hidden in the department.

"With exploration drilling going unchecked in the Tarkine and eight new mine proposals on the cards, it is imperative that the minister must change his course now.

"I recently asked Minister Burke if he had a recommendation that the Tarkine be considered for World Heritage listing. He denied this, but neglected to mention that its absence was due to the fact that he and previous ministers had failed to act.

"This latest news will leave many in Tasmania with a bitter taste of ministers doing profile pieces and photo opportunities in the bush whilst pandering to boom and bust mining operations rather than sustainable industries such as tourism.

"Minister Burke must realise that of the million visitors to Tasmania in 2010, very few of them would have come to visit the environmentally destructive mines.

"Tasmania's brand and the $1.5 billion of annual tourist revenue are dependent on the pristine forests and wilderness sold to tourists as our unique advantage.

"Choosing between a mine for ten years and a sustainable tourism industry that continues lining the state's purse for many years more is an easy decision.

"I urge the minister to initiate the long-overdue review of the Tarkine's world heritage values. It makes good economic and environmental sense."


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