Monday 23 June 2008
Hon Michelle O’Byrne
Aboriginal Heritage Legislation 
Ms O'BYRNE - That is the discussion we are having about changing people's attitudes and understanding of Aboriginal heritage as well and that in Tasmania has been a significant debate over the years.

Mr WING - Mrs Jamieson is saying Tiagarra. 

Mrs JAMIESON - I know they were interested in developing something.  That is why I wanted to know where the funding came from.

Mr WING - That could be a very appropriate place because there is space there and there is now that link already.

Mrs JAMIESON - That is right, and you also have the other artefacts around there at the Bluff.. 

Ms O'BYRNE - One of the things we looked at in Arts grants was the need to build support, capacity and strength in Aboriginal communities to allow them to start exploring those opportunities as well because it really is about community driving and achieving this themselves and our assisting them in that process.

Mr WING - I really hope that can happen.  I think it would be very good for the Tasmanian people to learn more about the Aboriginal culture, heritage, language and performances, as well as in the interests of tourism, to make an attractive tourist destination. 

Mrs JAMIESON - Just further to that, Minister, we took Charles and Jeremy with us to Minimata in Japan recently and they were so well received.  Everybody just loved them.  The Japanese were absolutely stunned but they were really well accepted and that is one reason why they have been invited back to Tokyo. 

Mr FINCH - My things have really been covered in the discussion.  I suppose one of the controversial aspects of the Aboriginal heritage legislation is the management of the Aboriginal heritage that is on private land.  I suppose this is part of the negotiation process, Mr Gadd, isn't it, that -

Ms O'BYRNE - This is part of our providing some clarity as well because there is a view amongst land holders that they do not really know what they should do and when they should do it and this is about providing a much better structure to assist them as well, because I think a lot of the times when we do end up in conflict it is not out of any intent but simply a lack of understanding and knowledge.  I think the main drive of the legislation is to clarify what responsibilities exist where and what processes people need to go through. 

Mr GADD - Integrated with our existing planning system as well.

Mr FINCH - A couple of alarm bells rang for me when you mentioned Arthurs River because I remember the last time I was there it was just such a stunning location for the shack sites particularly that are there.  I am just wondering whether they are built on middens.

Ms O'BYRNE - Well, funny you should mention that.  We have significant problems in the Arthur Pieman conservation area, particularly in terms of the tracks because the place where you would drive your four-wheel drive to stop and get the best view is, of course, the place where people a couple of thousand years ago would walk and stop to get the best view, so it is not unusual that we are dealing with the same sorts of issues.  We are trying to work with local communities there and also with off-road vehicle users about how we might manage this better and with the Aboriginal community as well.

Mr GADD - We do not see new legislation as being retrospective and we also see a principle in there of not being overly concerned about pre-existing use.  I mean, if there is a shack on a site and it has been there for a long time and they are going to continue to use it for that, then we do not see the legislation coming into play unless somebody wants to knock it over and build a new one.

Ms O'BYRNE - When you look particularly at agricultural developments, if the land has already been significantly disturbed then we will get a (??? 5:29:26) from (??) saying, 'Look, that is fine, we are quite happy for them to disturb it again'.  There has been a lot of support from community in that area but there needs to be clarity for people so they understand about the decision making process as well.

Mr GADD - And our consultations will cover the broader community, not just the Aboriginal community, and have done to this point as well.

Mr FINCH - I was not so much worried about the use of the land, more the shacks that are already so well established there -

Ms O'BYRNE - Indeed they are.

Mr FINCH - and in such a good community there too.

Mr GADD - The shacks sites project that has now been concluded has identified that some shacks do need to be removed, and that work progresses and some indeed have and will be removed.

CHAIR - Don't get too excited, Mr Finch. 

Mr GADD - But anyone who is in that boat would already understand the position that we are in.

Ms O'BYRNE - That would be quite down the process. 

Mr GADD - Ansons Bay was mentioned as a good example. 

CHAIR - Hence my reference to bona fide people identifying with this.  But that is something that we will not follow up in this session today.  Next we will move to 3.5.

Mr DEAN - Just a couple of entries there and you have mostly answered the question already.  I was going to ask if there are any areas in dispute, for example Bell Bay?

Ms O'BYRNE - In terms of the pulp mill or Bell Bay?

Mr DEAN - In relation to the pulp mill and any other site of Bell Bay at the present time.  Have they all been sorted out?

Ms O'BYRNE - The issues in relation to the pulp mill site are based around the fact that whilst there was community engagement there have been original surveys done.  There was an original survey done then another one by Stanton and Stone which identified 22 sites, 12 of which required protection. 

Mr GALL - Thirty-four all up - 12 that needed protection.

Ms O'BYRNE - Thirty-four sites.  12 did not require it, I think, 32 that did.

Mr DEAN - They were all in around where the mill is proposed.  Is that it? 

Ms O'BYRNE - At the mill site area.  So those reports were done - you would be aware that the community have withdrawn its support from the project.  That is not an issue right now because the permits are based on the information that was gathered in the original reports which were done by credit officers.  Where it would become an issue potentially is when they get to the point of actually disturbing a site where they are then required to engage an Aboriginal expert, an archaeologist or a heritage officer to be on site.  There are a whole host of rules around that.  I am happy to go into those if you want to.

Mr DEAN - No, I do not think I need you to.

Ms O'BYRNE - But that is an issue for -

Mr DEAN - My main concern is has a position been reached?  It is settled that the mill pays and where are we going if there is not?  That is my next question.

Ms O'BYRNE - The permit has been granted based on the information that exists.  There is no breach of the permit conditions at this stage because it is based on a report that was done by Stanton and Stone.  What will happen though is, in the event of Aboriginal heritage sites being located during construction, there are a number of things under the permit condition that must take place.  The proponents must cease construction activities immediately within 100 metres of the Aboriginal heritage site. 

They must notify the Aboriginal heritage office within 24 hours, assess the characteristics, condition and heritage value of the Aboriginal heritage using suitably qualified specialists, arrange a field inspection with staff from the Aboriginal Heritage Office if necessary to identify regulatory implications and options for dealing with the Aboriginal Heritage, engage with a Tasmanian Aboriginal Land and Sea Council on assessment and management options as required, determine appropriate actions with regard to the continuation of works including, as appropriate, gaining approval of a permitted action and not recommence construction activities until approval is received from the director.  So the heritage management plan that they have provides the operational guidelines.  In that way it is enacting the pulp mill permit.  The question will be quite clearly what happens when the proponent actually uncovers an Aboriginal site?  And getting an appropriately qualified person to engage. 

Mr DEAN - The councils have been very supportive in this type of process, have they not? 

Ms O'BYRNE - Yes, there have been suggestions that they were not but we have evidence of the number of times conversations were had that there was engagement.  I think that they have done what they can in terms of identifying this.  It is an obligation on them as a proponent now should they uncover a site to actually have an appropriate specialist on site.