Three Capes Track proposal

Throughout Tasmania our reserves seem to be under attack. A nickel mine is threatening the Dans Hill Conservation Area (as featured in the last Tasmanian Conservationist,No. 319, page 1), recreational vehicles are running amok in the Arthur-Pieman Conservation Area during the March 2010 state election the Labor Party committed $12 million for development of the disastrous Three Capes Track in the Tasman National Park.

Because the Greens had previously made clear their opposition to the Three Capes proposal and their support was likely to be required for either Labor or Liberal parties to form government, we should have felt confident that this proposal would be stopped or at least significantly changed.

But, in one of the more effective examples of wedge politics seen in recent years, the Greens environment spokesperson Cassy O’Connor felt obliged to give the party’s ‘in-principle support’ to the Three Capes Track (reported in the Mercury on 5 March and reiterated in an email to the TCT) in order to avoid being seen to be anti-development. Given that the Labor Party had only put forward one option and showed no interest in revising this proposal, we interpreted ‘in-principle support’ to mean support for the Three Capes Track.

At that time, the TCT and the Tasmanian National Parks Association (TNPA) both stated their public opposition to the project, but the damage seemed to be done. After the election the TCT, TNPA and Environment Tasmania lobbied the Greens to revert to their previously stated opposition to the proposal. We also heard that many other groups and individuals had raised similar concerns privately with the Greens.

Thankfully the Greens have now reverted to their previously expressed opposition to the current Three Capes Track proposal, clarifying their position on ABC’s Stateline program on 28 May. Cassy O’Connor also stated in a letter to the TCT, ‘I confirm that the Greens do not support the Three Capes Track proposal in its current form. The Greens have serious concerns about the scale of the Three Capes Track development and the environmental impact it may cause’.

The Greens could have made the same statement during the election and avoided being labelled anti-development by saying they believed alternative proposals were possible, which could deliver better environmental and economic outcomes.

With the Greens opposing the Three Capes Track, there now appears to be interest from the State Government in at least revising the proposal.

Peter McGlone