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Barnett Continues to Mislead, Divide over Forestry

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Tags: Forests, Native Forest Logging, Environment, TasNetworks

Cassy O'Connor MP | Greens Leader and Forests spokesperson

The big lie of a commercially viable and sustainable native forest industry was exposed with the release of Forestry Tasmania's 2015-16 annual report and correspondence from the FT Board today.

The perpetually unprofitable GBE has delivered a $67 million loss this year, despite a $30 million public bail out from TasNetworks in the previous financial year and a letter of comfort from the Treasurer that allowed it to borrow $14.4 million.

The information released today makes it clear that FT loses money every time it cuts down a tree from public native forest.

Forestry Tasmania is in terminal decline under the Liberals and its advice is being routinely ignored by government.

The letter from the Chair of the FT Board to the two shareholder Ministers makes no argument for logging in the 400 000 hectares of high conservation value forests set aside under the TFA, in fact, it does not mention these forests.

The letter from Forestry Tasmania's Board makes it clear that the financial sustainability of the industry long term is hampered by the fact that they sell their timber under-cost.  This is a public subsidy, locked in to industry contracts for 5-10 more years.

Even the Forestry Tasmania Board recommends this subsidy should cease.

The FT Board proposes a number of possible paths for the government to follow, including lowering the legislated minimum sawlog quota from 137 000m3 to 96 000 m3, further cutting staff and selling public land assets.

All these proposals have been flatly rejected by the Minister, who is intent on fanning conflict over forests in Tasmania in the lead up to the next election.

If FT and the industry are allowed into the 400 000 hectares of reserve forests, the cost to the public purse will skyrocket.

On forestry, Mr Barnett and the Liberals are complete frauds.