You are here

Forest Furnaces

24 August 2016

Ms O'CONNOR question to MINISTER for RESOURCES, Mr BARNETT

Submissions close on Friday for your Government's program to use taxpayers' money in an attempt to revive the dying native forest-logging industry through the use of forests for biomass energy. Work undertaken by Private Forests Tasmania in 2013 confirms that overwhelmingly large volumes for any biomass generation would come from native forests. In the Huon, along with the use of private native forests, more than 320 000 tonnes per annum of public native forest could be fed into a forest furnace. In Dorset, feasibility studies reveal an intention to take at least 150 000 green tonnes of native forest per annum for burning. How do you reconcile this unscientific, high-emissions, uneconomic and divisive push for native forest biomass burning with Forestry Tasmania's bid for Forest Stewardship Certification, or has your Government given up on FSC?

Mr Hidding - What don't you like about renewable energy?

Ms O'Connor - It's not renewable. In the EU they're moving away from it.

Madam SPEAKER - Order. I warn the member for Denison. The minister has the call and should be the only member addressing the House.


ANSWER

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Denison for her question and for providing a question about forestry. Unlike the previous Labor-Greens government, we have not given up on forestry, on investment and jobs and creating confidence in the community for the future, unlike the Labor-Greens government, which smashed the forest industry. Two out of every three jobs were lost in that very important sector.

The people of Tasmania now have a government that is committed to investment, growth and jobs in the forestry sector. If you had read The Examiner yesterday you would have seen the good news about the resurgence in the forestry industry as a result of the change of government, and the change in policies as a result of jobs being the number one priority by this Government for growth and development in this sector.

Forestry, unlike those on the other side, is not a four-letter word. It is a renewable, sustainable, job-creating industry and is providing opportunities, particularly for Tasmanians in regional areas. 

The member made reference to biomass and bio-energy. This Government is very supportive of that important part of the forest sector. Waste wood from native forest and plantation harvesting and processing remains an under-utilised resource. It is a potential feedstock for a range of applications including the production of electricity, heat, and even for production of liquid fuels.

Last week I met with the Meander Valley Council. We discussed their proposals for further bio-mass and bio-energy opportunities in that part of Tasmania. In June 2015 the Australian Government restored wood waste from native forest harvesting as a qualifying energy source under the renewal energy targets for production of electricity.

This is an initiative, which was opposed by the federal Labor government. What is the position of Labor on the other side of this Parliament? This is a concern. It should be supported. The change in law recognises that wood waste is a renewable source for energy.

Opposition members interjecting. 

Madam SPEAKER - Order

Mr BARNETT - The Hodgman Liberal Government supports all these opportunities which provide jobs in rural and regional Tasmania. This government is very supportive and will do everything in its power to ensure -

Ms WOODRUFF - Madam Speaker -

Madam SPEAKER - Order. If there is a point of order you do not just yell out my name. You have to call a point of order. Is there a point of order?

Ms WOODRUFF - Point of order, Madam Speaker, under standing order 195. The member has not addressed the topic and has continued to talk with complete irrelevance about biomass.

Madam SPEAKER - No, the member will sit down. I am going to pick her up straightaway Standing order 195 does not apply question time. It only applies to a debate. The only Standing Order on relevance that applies to a minister in question time is standing order 96.

Mr BARNETT - Thank you, Madam Speaker. The Greens do not like the answer. They do not like those in the forest industry. They were part of the Labor-Greens coalition to smash the forest industry; two out of three jobs were lost in that sector. This Government has changed that. We have growth in jobs, and we are providing opportunities for regional Tasmania.