You are here

Logging in High Conservation Value Forests

25 September 2019

 

Ms O'CONNOR question to PREMIER, Mr HODGMAN

Yesterday, in your embarrassing response to our question on your no-show for the climate strike, you praised the Prime Minister for his climate leadership, despite him deciding not to attend the UN Climate Summit, and you suggested your Government is leading on climate. The reason Tasmania's emissions profile looks as good as it does is in significant part due to the work of the conservation movement over decades because we got the loggers out of more than half a million hectares of high conservation value carbon-banking forests.

Mr Ferguson - Oh, okay.

Madam SPEAKER - Order.

Ms O'CONNOR - They are the facts. You are anti-science but they are the facts. We got the loggers out of more than half a million hectares of high conservation value carbon banking forests and the more evolved players in the industry have moved into plantations. Can you confirm that your Government plans to open more than 356 000 hectares of some of the most carbon-dense forests on the planet to loggers from 8 April next year? How will you explain that to the children in the time of climate emergency?

 

ANSWER

Madam Speaker, I thank the true leader of the opposition for the question. If they want to take credit for Tasmania being the climate change leader that we are, fine.

Ms O'Connor - It is the forests. We are not a climate change leader.

Mr HODGMAN - Well, we are.

Ms O'Connor - No. Emissions are going up everywhere.

Mr HODGMAN - We were the first jurisdiction in Australia to achieve zero-net emissions. We will be 100 per cent renewable by 2022. We are delivering on what is a nation-leading action plan, Climate Action 21, with a number of initiatives that will go to improving our emissions footprint, to reducing those emissions, and actions that are supporting Government's efforts and the non-government sector, business, industry and those in our community who we do understand are concerned about this issue and we hope are informed with the facts and not only the Greens version of things. It is not honestly reflecting how far Tasmania has come.

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker, relevance. I wrote that question so that it specifically pointed to the issue of the plan to open up the high conservation value carbon-bank forests and draw the Premier's attention to the question. He is deflecting.

Madam SPEAKER - Whilst I have empathy for you, Ms O'Connor, it is not a point of order. I cannot force the Premier to say anything.

Ms O'Connor - He needs to answer the question about the forests.

Mr HODGMAN - Thank you, Madam Speaker, and I will but the Leader of the Greens opened her question with a statement about Tasmania's status when it comes to emissions reduction and climate change policy, and it is important the facts are on the record. I am sure that all those people, who I understand are concerned about this and choose to protest and to rally, want to be informed with the facts. I do not think they get them from the Greens. For them, this is their raison d'être, it is a campaign for them. We are about action and about delivering -

Greens members interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER - Order, Dr Woodruff. I am going to give both of you ladies a warning.

Mr HODGMAN - the lowest per capita emissions of all states and territories achieved by Tasmania. Emissions per person decreased between 1990 and 2007, a reduction of 96 per cent, and it occurred when our population was growing. Our state is one of the lowest net emitters of carbon dioxide on the planet. Renewable energy generated will be 100 per cent by 2022 and our Government's commitment is to invest in renewable energy, in climate research and science and a number of initiatives. I hope the member who asked the question would inform those who come to her to understand the facts would be equipped with these.

With respect to our working forests, we are committed to rebuilding an industry that was decimated by Labor and the Greens, with jobs lost and it negatively impacted on our economy. We have always said that our growth strategy for this important industry is based on resource security, financial sustainability, job security, a stronger role for the private sector and positive environmental outcomes, which are critical. The purpose of the Government's approach to Future Potential Production Forest land and the reason we introduced the Forestry (Rebuilding the Forest Industry) Act in 2014 was to secure a wood bank to provide for future sustainable forestry production in Tasmania. The act sets out a process to exchange with or, after 8 April 2020, to convert Future Potential Production Forest land to Permanent Timber Production Zone land. To exchange that land requires the acceptance of both Houses of parliament. The act does not mandate that anything must happen on a particular date. There is no conspiracy in the legislation that passed this parliament. It does not mandate that anything must happen. No exchange of FPPF land has occurred or even been sought since the Forestry (Rebuilding the Forest Industry) Act -

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker. I believe the Premier is seeking to mislead parliament. He is on the record as seeking access to those reserved forests. It has been reported in The Australian.

Madam SPEAKER - Order, that is not a point of order.

Ms O'Connor - He is misleading.

Madam SPEAKER - I know you are very passionate about it, Ms O'Connor, but I ask the Premier to proceed.

Mr HODGMAN - That is certainly the advice I have. It certainly has not occurred, as the member might suggest, and there has been provision for special timbers access since 2017, but I am not aware of any application to do so. The Government is continuing to engage with stakeholders in relation to this land and its role in the future of our forest industry. There has been no proposal to access this resource presented to Government of which I am aware. We note interest from an industry that is revitalised under this Government, but any process will be thoroughly assessed in line with the requirements that have been set down by legislation that passed through this parliament. With the exception of areas incorporated into the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, the FPPF land is not and has never been part of Tasmania's formal reserve system. The claim that all this land is of high conservation value comes from the Greens and their discredited Tasmanian Forest Agreement.

Dr Woodruff - No, it doesn't. It came from the forestry sector. You are the Bolsonaro of Tasmania. It is criminal.

Mr FERGUSON - Point of order, Madam Speaker. I suspect you may not have heard the appalling interjection from Dr Woodruff. I ask you to have her withdraw her claim with that word, criminal.

Madam SPEAKER - I did not hear it. If that is what you said, Dr Woodruff, could you kindly withdraw it unreservedly?

Dr WOODRUFF - Thank you, Madam Speaker. I did not say he is criminal. I said this is criminal. There is nothing wrong with that and I stand by those words because they are factual. It would be criminal to log those forests.

Madam SPEAKER - Okay, we will not labour it, thank you.