Tarkine 'tourist' road

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In 2008 Forestry Tasmania proposed the construction of a loop road through the Tarkine rainforest wilderness in North-West Tasmania.

With the electorate of Braddon crucial to the re-election prospects of the government -- especially following controversies that have embroiled two Ministers -- Bartlett decided to allocate funding for the Tarkine road. Chief political reporter for the Mercury, Sue Neales observed in February 2009 that Bartlett "is spending every day he can in the North-West, bestowing small project and festival grants wherever he travels. He handed out $23 million for a tourist road through the Tarkine forest that the tourism industry does not want, the state cannot afford and which only appears to have as its cynical purpose the turning of local political sentiment against the Greens and back to Labor."[1]

The Tasmanian government have defended the proposal claiming that "the proposal involves a 127 kilometre bitumen road, skirting the Tarkine from Wynyard on the North Coast through to Arthur River on the West Coast, to complete a tourist loop road to Smithton and Stanley. Most of the drive already exists 116 kilometres of gravel roads and tracks, and 18 kilometres of existing bitumen road. Only 5.4 kilometres of new road is required to link the existing gravel road sections. The Tarkine Drive will provide greater opportunities for visitors to access a number of iconic attractions in the region. The redevelopment will include nature trails, visitor facilities and interpretive services at key sites."[2]

2009 Tasmanian budget

In the 2009/2010 budget, in which the Bartlett government stated that 800 public service jobs would be axed to meet financial targets, also committed the government to funding of the road. The budget papers stated that "funding of $23.0 million was allocated in 2008-09 over four years for the establishment of the Tarkine Drive ... It is anticipated that the development will deliver significant economic and community benefits to the region. It is estimated that $8.8 million of the $23.0 million allocation will be spent during 2009-10, with the project to be completed by 2012."[2]

The budget also indicated that a further $12.2 million had been earmarked for the project in 2010/11 and another $1.175 million in 2011/2012.[3]

Quotable Quotes

  • "Forestry Tasmania will not make a brass razoo out of this $23 million Tarkine drive, in fact it will lose access to some 650 hectares of forest that would otherwise be available for harvesting, so this is really a community service by Forestry Tasmania."[4]

Articles and Resources

Related SourceWatch Articles


  1. Sue Neales,"Team Bartlett has early election whiff", The Mercury, February 14, 2009.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Tasmanian Government, Budget Paper No 2: Government Services, Volume 1, Tasmanian Parliament, June 2009, page 6.23.
  3. Tasmanian Government, Budget Paper No 2: Government Services, Volume 1, Tasmanian Parliament, June 2009, page 6.2.
  4. "Tarkine road plan sparks tourism row", ABC, May 24, 2009.

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