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First published August 9

An open letter to the Premier of Tasmania

The Honourable Will Hodgman
Hon Will Hodgman,
Premier of Tasmania and Minister for Aboriginal Affairs,
Parliament House,
Hobart 7000.
9 August 2017
Dear Premier,

We the undersigned are Tasmanian writers, historians and publishers, with works drawing on Tasmania’s past, present and sense of place.

As non-Aboriginal people, we unconditionally support steps to progress reconciliation with Aboriginal Tasmania. While some of us have direct ancestral links to figures and families involved in the colonisation of Tasmania, we all feel the heavy weight of this history, how it was told and its ongoing impact on a proud and independent people.

Tasmania’s Aboriginal people, the Palawa, have lived here since time began. Their culture, community and connection to Country lives on despite the dispossession and injustice inflicted.

Injustice continues to this day, making the task of reconciliation multi-layered and urgent. Reconciliation is more than atonement for the past. Reconciliation requires action, equality, respect, celebration and support for Aboriginal people and their heritage, today.

Reconciliation requires leadership.

Reconciliation requires good faith.

Premier, the takayna/Tarkine is Aboriginal land. It displays some of the most powerful and precious sites of Aboriginal heritage significance and is an Aboriginal cultural landscape, a direct link to Palawa ancestors. This tangible link to one of the planet’s most ancient cultures merits a formalised level of official recognition and Aboriginal involvement, far beyond that which currently applies. Land justice is central to reconciliation.

Your intention to expand 4WD access across the takayna Aboriginal cultural landscape is entirely inconsistent with a good faith attempt to progress reconciliation.

It will be impossible for you to move beyond statements of intent, whilst the Government you lead continues to impose one culture over another, remains deaf to the wishes of the Aboriginal community and pushes for increased vehicle access across a sacred land.

In the interests of reconciliation, unity, equality and respect, we urge you to withdraw your plan to expand 4WD access on the takayna coast. In its place, take steps to properly protect this landscape through collaboration, cooperation and land justice.

By doing so, you will create a platform of trust and credibility upon which to build the reconciliation all Tasmanians want you to achieve.

Yours sincerely,

Pete Hay
Rachel Edwards
James Boyce
Lyndall Ryan
Heather Rose
Don Knowler
Henry Reynolds
Bob Brown AM
Bert Spinks
Clive Tilsley
Hamish Maxwell-Stewart
Alison Alexander
Nick Brodie
Kristyn Harman
Jesse Shipway
Susie Greenhill
Geoff Law AM
James Dryburgh
Katherine Scholes
Stephenie Cahalan
Amanda Lohrey
Andrew Lohrey
Lindsay Tuffin
Rachel Leary
Chris Champion
Lucinda Sharp
Jamie Kirkpatrick AM
John Biggs
Rees Campbell
Ralph Wessman
Adam Ouston
Rohan Wilson
Scott Millwood
Tim Thorne
Gina Mercer
Danielle Wood
Sarah Day
Rachael Treasure

*Pete Hay is a poet - with several published works - and an academic. He retired as Reader in Geography and Environmental Studies at the University of Tasmania in 2008. Pete remains an Honorary Research Associate at that institution. His research impact has mainly been in the sub-disciplines of island studies, place theory, environmental thought and the democratic credentials of activism. His major academic work is Main Currents in Western Environmental Thought (2002), published in Britain as A Companion to Environmental Thought.

*Rachel Edwards is the editor in chief of Transportation Press, whose second book, The Third Script, new short stories from Iran, Tasmania and the UK was launched in March 2016. She is the Non-fiction editor of Open Road Review, South Asia’s leading magazine of literature and culture, a regular guest on ABC radio discussing books and publishing and was host of the long running Book Show on Edge Radio, in the guise of Paige Turner. She is a freelance writer and reviewer and her work has appeared in Island, Crikey, Bookseller and Publisher and The Mercury. She guest edited a volume of the Review of Australian Fiction which featured Tasmanian authors exclusively. She is a former editor of Island and judge of the Tasmanian Literary Prizes and she has worked in bookshops around Australia, most recently as events manager at Fullers Bookshop. She has recently soft launched a freelance literary consulting business, Paige Turner.

ABC: Tasmanian 4WD tracks: Premier’s stance on Arthur-Pieman area ‘undermines reconciliation’ More than two dozen prominent Tasmanian writers, academics and conservationists have warned reopening controversial four-wheel-drive tracks on the state’s north-west coast could undermine attempts at reconciliation with Aboriginal Tasmanians. They have signed an open letter to Premier Will Hodgman, asking him to keep the tracks in the Arthur-Pieman Conservation Area closed and to take steps to protect Aboriginal heritage sites there. The State Government has been trying to reopen the tracks but has been stalled by court action taken by the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre (TAC) …

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