I write today in the wake of the Gillard government’s appalling failure to protect 96 per cent of the Tarkine wilderness, home to the last disease-free Tassie devil population and the largest remaining single tract of Gondwanan rainforest, from a potential free-for-all for short-term mining interests, many of which are off-shore companies.
These miners propose short-sighted projects of as little as two years’ duration, which will permanently rupture the environmental integrity of this irreplaceable Australian icon, for next to no local gain.
In short, the Tarkine wilderness is to be turned into a foreign tin and iron ore miners’ tailings pit.
With the decision of Minister Tony Burke, we are now facing the likely extinction of another unique faunal species.
The Tasmanian devil is ominously close to going the way of the Tasmanian Tiger, a species wiped from the face of the earth through human ignorance and greed.
This time, if we lose the devil, it will be through sheer greed alone. We can no longer claim ignorance of the essential need to preserve habitat and disease-free genetics.
Minister Burke’s decision completely ignores the recommendations of the Australian Heritage Council, with whom a huge proportion of Australians agree when it states that the Tarkine deserves world heritage listing.
The eco-tourism operators and food producers who rely upon this pristine, precious and priceless wilderness face ruin, all for a quick buck for overseas interests.
Many of the areas of the Tarkine being eyed by rapacious mining interests were protected by John Howard by virtue of their global heritage values.
Federal Labor is failing all Australians with this abject sell-off of our environmental heritage.
All of us should be demanding that this, or a subsequent government, reverse this decision and award the Tarkine Wilderness the World Heritage protection it is so obviously worthy of.