Both the Government and Coalition must explain why they both today denied an urgently-needed World Heritage assessment of the Tarkine, despite supporting it almost five years ago, says Greens Deputy Leader, Christine Milne.
Labor and Coalition senators today voted down a motion tabled by Senator Milne calling on the government to uphold an undertaking made by the Howard government asking the Australian Heritage Council to review the Tarkine's World Heritage values.
"The Tasmanian community deserves an explanation as to why both Labor and Coalition MPs now reject the Tarkine's significance as an area of outlasting natural heritage values.
"Five years ago both parties unanimously passed a motion calling on the government to instigate a World Heritage assessment. Both obviously deemed the Tarkine a significant asset to Australia, but now have turned their backs on the region at a time when heritage listing is needed more than ever. What has changed?
"Clearly nothing has changed with the Tarkine itself. What has changed is the fact that the mining industry has now captured both the Liberal and Labor parties.
"I call on the Government and Coalition to come clean with Tasmanians, and either stop the pretence of caring or get on with the heritage listing.
"With as many as eight Tarkine mining applications on the cards it is obvious that today's display of unity in neglecting the vital need for heritage listing was buoyed by commercial interest.
"This is the latest in a litany of failures demonstrated initially by Malcolm Turnbull who never communicated the Senate's resolution to the Heritage Council. Peter Garret followed soon after with little or no communication with his predecessor, and now we have Environment Minister, Tony Burke allowing unchecked exploration drilling despite holding a recommendation from the Heritage Council that the Tarkine be placed on the national heritage list.
"This is unacceptable for the thousands of Tasmanians who benefit from $1.5 billion of annual tourism revenue. Mines deliver short-term income, Mr Burke. Protected wilderness on the other hand will boost the state's coffers indefinitely."