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Time is running out for the Tarkine: Emergency Heritage Listing vital by December 2

Media Release
Christine Milne 21 Nov 2011

The Greens will tomorrow move in the Senate to call on the Minister for the Environment to immediately include the Tarkine on the National Heritage List to ensure that the extraordinary wilderness's heritage values can be considered in the environmental assessment of proposed mines.

"The Tarkine is renowned around the world as a spectacular and important wilderness area, but it has been ‘under consideration' for heritage listing since 2004 with no final decision," Australian Greens Deputy Leader, Senator Christine Milne, said.

"Time is swiftly running out if we are to prevent this magnificent part of Australia from being turned into just another hole in the ground.

"If the Tarkine is not listed by December 2, the Environment Minister, Tony Burke, will be legally unable to consider the heritage values of the wilderness in the assessment of the massive proposed Venture Minerals mine at Mt Lindsay.

"In reality, if Minister Burke doesn't list the Tarkine by December 2, he is making a deliberate choice to exclude the Tarkine's heritage values from his assessment of Venture Minerals' mine."

The Motion reads:
I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move that the Senate:
1. Notes:
a) The Tarkine is the last great unprotected wilderness in southern Australia, and is recognised to be of World Heritage significance;
b) The Tarkine has been under consideration for inclusion on the National Heritage List since 2004, making it the longest continuous assessment process in the history of the National Heritage process;
c) The delay in heritage listing means mining companies only need be assessed on potential impacts on threatened species and not the impacts on heritage values which include wilderness, geological, cultural, flora and fauna diversity and natural history values;
d) The recently referred Venture Minerals tin, tungsten copper and hematite mine at Mt Lindsay is a Pilbara style open cut super pit to a depth of 220 metres that will devastate an area 3.5 km by 3 km of the Tarkine rainforest wilderness;
e) This proposed pit is within an existing reserve, and is completely inconsistent with the protection of the Tarkine;
f) The Minister for the Environment is legally unable to consider the impacts on the rainforest, the 25 watercourses to be disrupted, or the recognised wilderness values of the area in the mine's assessment under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act unless the Tarkine is Heritage listed;
g) A diseased Tasmanian devil has been discovered on the eastern side of the Arthur River, making the area to the west of the Arthur River the only disease free part of Tasmania, highlighting the urgent need to permanently protect the Tarkine from further major developments including mining and roading that directly threaten the devil.
2. Calls on the Minister to:
a) Immediately include the Tarkine on the National Heritage List before he considers the Venture Minerals proposed mine under the EPBC Act;
b) Acknowledge that Venture Minerals have deliberately split the project for assessment purposes;
c) Require Venture Minerals to submit the entire mining proposal for the Tarkine area for assessment;
d) Recognise that failure to list the Tarkine before the December 2nd is a deliberate choice to exclude heritage values from the mine proposal assessment;
e) Acknowledge that a decision not to list the Tarkine on the National Heritage List is a decision to prioritise mining over the protection of wilderness values.


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