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Native Forest Biomass

26 May 2015

Mr McKIM question to MINISTER for RESOURCES, Mr HARRISS

[10.31 a.m.]

Unbelievably, you are now taking up Paul Lennon's dream of burning native forest woodchips in industrial scale forest furnaces to generate electricity. Talk about back to the future. Is it not the case that you intend to take the same approach that was taken by Mr Lennon in his blind support for Gunns Limited's pulp mill in the Tamar Valley by offering a public subsidy to any proponent in the form of either direct funding, discount woodchips or an assumption of market risk by the Tasmanian taxpayer, or a combination of all of those subsidies? Do you agree that large-scale native forest furnaces are not financially viable without any or all of those subsidies? Will you today rule out any public subsidy, including the assumption of market risk by the Tasmanian Government or its agencies, for any proponent of industrial scale native forest biomass generation in Tasmania?

ANSWER

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for his question. Here is the very man who threw the wrecking ball into the Tasmanian economy when in government with the ALP in the last government. Now this same member who threw the wrecking ball in and said, 'We have an economy in transition' seeks to run away from the realities. He does not have the ticker to stay the distance and wants to run off to the Senate. Far be it for him to lecture this Government on anything to do with biomass or residue solutions in this state.

This member does not get it when we look at the reality of the Triabunna woodchip mill having been taken out of the equation. He knew, just as his collaborators knew on the other side of this House, that taking out Triabunna was the strategic execution of the industry in the south. They sat on their hands and did nothing while that strategic infrastructure facility was taken out of the equation for the forest industry in this state.

This Government supports the renewable energy credits process and the Renewable Energy Targets being organised and set by the federal government. Part of all this is finding better ways to value-add the residues in this state from our forest practices, whether it be from native forests or plantation forests.

The viability of the industry is very important to this Government. We will not shy away from getting the industry back onto a sustainable footing or from getting Forestry Tasmania's operational process onto a sustainable footing. Part of that is a proper expanded use of the residues in this state for value-adding onshore.

When asking his question the member alluded to the pulp mill. This Government, of course, supports the pulp mill being developed in Tasmania, unlike the Greens on the other side, with the wrecking ball thrown into the industry on their watch, and Mr McKim, unashamedly and obviously, will always oppose value-adding to our forest processes in this state. It is amazing that he just wants to focus on native forests now and not go anywhere to the reality that there is always residue from native forest processes and harvesting.

Mr McKim - Yes, they're called woodchips. That's what you want to burn.

Madam SPEAKER - Order. It is not the time for debate.

Mr HARRISS - He is bouncing around on a false premise, as he always does, because there has to be value-adding onshore, and part of that is biomass use. This Government will stand behind getting the industry onto a sustainable footing. It does not matter what they want to throw at us in terms of loose and sloppy criticism, because there are some realities in this state which we will face up to and they will always run away from.