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Forestry - Sale of Plantation Assets
Ms O'CONNOR question to PREMIER, Mr HODGMAN
Shortly after coming to office in April 2014 you stated publicly:
Let me be clear: we will not be selling any Government or public owned assets other than the Aurora retail book which the former government put up for sale and which we have supported.
Other than that, we will not be selling anything and that is part of the commitment we took to the last election.
Can you explain how selling 29 000 hectares of publicly-owned plantations with a 99 year lease to a foreign investor with a parent company in the Caymans is not privatisation?
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for the question. I do not accept the characterisation by the Leader of the Greens. Let me be very clear again what we are talking about here is the sale of the trees, not the land. It is as simple as that.
Madam SPEAKER - Order.
Mr HODGMAN - It is as simple as that. We are not only ensuring that we are able to relieve the Tasmanian taxpayer from having to subsidise Sustainable Timber Tasmania, formerly Forestry Tasmania, which the member who asked the question was happy to do. Money that could have gone into hospitals, schools or our roads was being diverted into propping up a commercial operation that was not sustainable.
We have had to ensure for the industry and the forest arm of government, Sustainable Timber Tasmania, that it is financially sustainable. We can now deliver the returns of this sale, the proceeds, into what is our number one priority and that is better health care for Tasmanians. If you want to argue for more money to subsidise forestry operations, that is a matter for you. We will argue every day to ensure more money is diverted from forestry into health and that is exactly what this is about.
Under Labor and the Greens, $25 million a year was taken out of health and education to subsidise Forestry Tasmania. We believe it is a good result. It has been declared to be so by the Forest Industry Association of Tasmania. We believe it provides for the opportunity to invest more into health, which is our priority. It relieves Sustainable Timber Tasmania of that subsidy.
What matters is what works. This policy is delivering better results and better outcomes than can ever happen under a Labor-Greens government.