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Minister must list Tarkine before 17 March

The Federal Environment Minister, Tony Burke must heritage list the Tarkine before a decision on a referral to mine the area is made on 17 March.

Minister Burke yesterday signed a brief from his department stating that any heritage listing occurring after 17 March will not legally affect any decision made on the Shree Minerals mining proposal.

"On 17 March Minister Burke is set to decide on Shree Minerals' referral. If he has not listed the Tarkine before that decision is made, then the Heritage values will not have to be taken into account even if it is listed later," said Greens Deputy Leader, Christine Milne.

"Having delayed and ducked for cover since 2004, time is up.

"Tasmania's Tarkine has world heritage values with temperate rainforests, 50 or more rare and threatened species, a magnificent karst system and sites of global archaeological significance. Why is it so hard for successive Federal Ministers to use their powers to protect it?

"Whether or not a place has heritage values is an expert decision and the result in this instance is a resounding, ‘yes'. The decision to protect it, however, is clearly political and a delay by Minister Burke means a resounding ‘No'.

"Minister Burke has a Heritage Council report recommending listing buried in his Department. He must release this now, especially since the area is under threat from three mining proposals.

"Yesterday the Minister stated he could not reinstate emergency heritage listing as the nature of the threat had differed since the original application, yet his brief clearly states that he could re-list if necessary.

"The question then Minister Burke, is what you believe is necessary in order to grant heritage listing? Reading this brief it appears that a decision stalled is a decision to usher the mining companies through the door before they are constrained by the recommendations of the Australian Heritage Council.

"A paper just released by the Australian Centre for Environmental Law outlines what Minister Burke should be considering. It says the Heritage Council found that damaging just one part of the Tarkine will affect the wilderness value of the whole. Is that reason enough to re-list, Minister?
"Minister Burke needs to take a stand for the Tarkine now," said Senator Milne.

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