TASMANIA'S Tarkine wilderness is set for a Franklin Dam-style showdown after talks between green groups and unions over disputed mining projects collapsed yesterday.
A 90-minute meeting in Sydney between delegates led by Australian Workers Union national secretary Paul Howes and Greens senator Peter Whish-Wilson ended with each side accusing the other of being unwilling to compromise.
Scott Jordan, of the Tarkine National Coalition, part of the conservationist delegation, said his group had little option left but ''direct action''.
He said he ''absolutely'' stood by previous remarks he has made warning of Franklin Dam-style blockades of mining projects in the area in north-west Tasmania.
The stoush ups the stakes for Environment Minister Tony Burke, who is at present considering parts of the area for heritage protection.
Mr Howes' delegation proposed to the conservationists that, as an act of good faith, they drop their protests against an iron-ore project by Venture Minerals, which could begin work as early as the start of next year.
Mr Jordan said this mine, and two other planned projects of the company, were the Tarkine group's biggest concern in the area.
''You can't give up your worst-case scenario as an act of good faith,'' he said. ''It was clearly not an offer they thought we could seriously accept.''
Mr Howes told The Age there was no point in further talks.
''I said, 'Well if you're not going to make any compromises, why would we negotiate?' ''
The AWU had called a community rally for November 17 in Burnie on Tasmania's north coast, he said.
Senator Whish-Wilson, who brokered yesterday's meeting in Sydney, said he did not support talk of Franklin-style blockades and it was time for Tasmania to move beyond such conflicts. But he agreed the Tarkine conservationists now felt they had little alternative.
''I don't think there's any avoiding direct action if [the union] continue to not talk to the community groups about this,'' he said.