Liberal attack on World Heritage rejected
The Australian Greens are delighted that the World Heritage draft decision recommends its Committee not approve the Abbott government's bid to delist 74,000 hectares of precious forest from the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.
"This outright rejection is the best possible result - for Tasmania's forests, Australia's international reputation, and the integrity of World Heritage sites everywhere," said Australian Greens Leader Christine Milne.
"I call on Tony Abbott to immediately withdraw Australia's application to adjust the boundary of the TWWHA and not have it proceed to the meeting of the World Heritage Committee in Qatar in June. This demeaning act of environmental vandalism, which so damages our global reputation, should end now.
"There was never any merit to the proposal. It was always a cynical political strategy driven by Prime Minister Abbott, Senators Eric Abetz and Richard Colbeck, to try to win federal seats and the Tasmanian state election.
"The expert bodies that advise the World Heritage Committee have condemned the Australian government for failing to provide any evidence of their claim that large parts of the forest are degraded. Instead, they've ordered the Australian government to get on with giving the World Heritage Area a high standard of management and cultural interpretation.
"Tony Abbott has used Tasmania to pursue an ideological, Liberal Party agenda of undermining national parks and World Heritage Areas. It's time for him to start acting in Australia's best interests."
The draft decision released this morning is based on the expert advice of the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS). The final decision will be made by the 21 member countries at the 38th session of the World Heritage Committee in Qatar between 15 and 25 June.
"Australia engaging in global political horse-trading in the lead up to the final decision would be a disgrace," said Senator Milne.
"When the World Heritage Area extension was approved in Phnom Penh in 2013, the Australian government was requested to consult with the aboriginal community and provide funding to them to do interpretation of the site. Shamefully, Tony Abbott has ignored that and done nothing.
"It's now time for the Abbott government to abandon their efforts to undermine World Heritage protections and get on with enhancing the experience of every visitor."